Who Moved My Fear?

One of our Change Managers recently shared a list of the 12 Best Change Management Books to Read in 2021.  Among them is the best-selling book from 1998 written by Spencer Johnson, Who Moved My Cheese?

Although I owned and had read Who Moved My Cheese, it had been a number of years earlier, and I was ready for a refresher.  Over the course of my son’s dental filling appointment and an additional half hour, I was again mesmerized by the common sense, and all-too-close-to-home story of Hem and Haw.

There is so much cheesy goodness in this book (pun intended), and it really takes such a short period of time to read it, that I am not going to provide a summary of the whole book in this article.  Here is the quote, however, that caused me to break out the highlighter and bookmark the page for this very article:

“What you are afraid of is never as bad as what you imagine.”

Spencer Johnson “Who Moved My Cheese? – page 63

Change is going to happen – we all know that intellectually.  However, when we have built up a comfortable life, or a comfortable belief – we do not necessarily “know” this emotionally.  We are afraid of what could be on the other side of change.  And the longer we resist the change, the stronger our fear becomes as we conjure up further negative permutations of the change.

Ultimately, we need to get past our fear to emotionally embrace change – and fortunately Spencer Johnson has a great tip for that as well.

“The fastest way to change is to laugh at your own folly – then you can let go and quickly move on.”

Spencer Johnson “Who Moved My Cheese? – page 70

Humor seems like such a simple trick!  It even has a place in Harry Potter, when a creature called the Boggart assumes the form of the observer’s greatest fear. The defense against this Boggart-fear-image is to cast the “Riddikulus” charm which turns the fear into something funny, and poof! The fear is defeated.

Next time we find ourselves fearful about a change, try these three steps to move that fear along:

  1. Consider what we are truly afraid of with regards to the change at hand.
  2. Imagine the likelihood of that thing happening, and how to admit that fear is kind of funny in a self-deprecating way.
  3. Physically smile, even if you don’t feel like it.  Amazingly, it science says this actually helps!

After doing these small things – reconsider the change, the fear, and the response to it. In other words:

Move your own fear.