On Friday our 8th grade students took a big step in their journey toward high school. They joined Lincoln Middle School 8th graders for presentations from the various Choice Schools they will have the option of applying to, for enrollment next school year. This is usually the time in their journey when a number of students begin facing a certain amount of anxiety. It’s not high school that is necessarily the scary part (although I’m sure it is intimidating for many) but the inevitable change that is staring them in the face. Change itself is hard and many of our students have been at KTEC for a long time, many of them their entire school career, this transition won’t be easy!
I can’t say I’ve ever met someone who finds change easy. It rarely feels good leaving the known for the unknown. Change can be big or small, quick or slow, expected or out of the blue. No matter how it happens, change is difficult. I was reminded of this recently when I read the book Who Moved My Cheese?: An amazing way to deal with change in your work and in your life. This wonderfully simple book is full of great lessons on change that helped me clarify my thinking on change and how to approach it in a rational way.
This book takes a concept (change) that is a challenge for many people and, through a short story, offers a user-friendly guide to successfully navigating the maze of change. Like any good book, this one was adapted into a movie (the book is better, as usual!) that can be seen here if you’ve got 11 minutes. While the short movie gives you the general message of the story I think reading the book was a better experience because it gave me the time to pause and reflect as I went along. The story includes seven important lessons. I’d like to share those lessons with you today but need to offer a little context first.
In the story, the main characters live in a maze. They eat Cheese, which symbolizes anything we think we need in order to be happy. For the mice in the story, Cheese was cheese. However, for us humans, Cheese could be anything from a rewarding job to a happy family or being a homeowner, anything that we think we might need to be happy. As the story plays out and the characters learn important lessons, one character writes the lessons on the wall of the maze – the literal ‘handwriting on the wall’. Here are the seven big lessons from the story:
- Change happens (The Cheese will keep moving)
- Anticipate change (Get ready for the Cheese to move)
- Monitor change (Smell the Cheese often so you know when it is getting old)
- Adapt to change quickly (The quicker you let go of old Cheese, the sooner you can enjoy new Cheese)
- Change (Move with the Cheese)
- Enjoy change (Savor the adventure and enjoy the taste of new Cheese)
- Be ready to change quickly and enjoy it again and again (The Cheese will continue to move)
(Johnson, S., 2002, p. 74)
As our 8th graders begin to think about change in their life, it’s a great time for us to reflect on how we deal with change in our lives. I’d like to encourage you to contemplate how you manage change in your life, both your personal life and your professional life. Feel free to start by watching the movie from above. Better yet, if you’d like to borrow this book I have a copy in my office that I’d be more than happy to share (it’s super short, less than 100 pages and like size 18 font!)
Change is difficult for everyone. Acknowledging that is the first step. From there we must recognize how we currently face the challenges that change brings, then we are able to adapt and grow from there. I talked last week about reflecting and thinking about growth, thinking about change is a great tool for doing just that!!
Here’s the book if you’re interested:
Johnson, S. (2002). Who moved my cheese?: An amazing way to deal with change in your work and in your life. New York: Putnam.