I Moved Your Cheese: For Those Who Refuse to Live as Mice in Someone Else's Maze

( 24 )


If you were a mouse trapped in a maze and someone kept moving the cheese, what would you do?

Over a decade ago the bestselling business fable Who Moved My Cheese? offered its answer to this question: accept that change is inevitable and beyond your control, don’t waste your time wondering why things are the way they are, keep your head down and start looking for the cheese.

But success in the areas of innovation, entrepreneurship, creativity, ...

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I Moved Your Cheese: For Those Who Refuse to Live as Mice in Someone Else's Maze

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If you were a mouse trapped in a maze and someone kept moving the cheese, what would you do?

Over a decade ago the bestselling business fable Who Moved My Cheese? offered its answer to this question: accept that change is inevitable and beyond your control, don’t waste your time wondering why things are the way they are, keep your head down and start looking for the cheese.

But success in the areas of innovation, entrepreneurship, creativity, leadership, and business growth—as well as personal growth—depends on the ability to push the boundaries, reshape the environment, and play by a different set of rules: our own. With that in mind, Harvard Business School professor Deepak Malhotra offers a radically different answer to this question.

Malhotra tells an inspiring story about three unique and adventurous mice—Max, Big, and Zed—who refuse to accept their reality as given. As we watch their lives unfold and intersect, we discover that instead of just blindly chasing after the cheese, each of us has the ability to escape the maze or even reconfigure it to our liking.

In the face of established practices, traditional ideas, scarce resources, and the powerful demands or expectations of others, we often underestimate our ability to control our own destiny and overcome the constraints we face—or think we face. I Moved Your Cheese reminds us that we can create the new circumstances and realities we want, but first we must discard the often deeply ingrained notion that we are nothing more than mice in someone else’s maze. As Zed explains, “You see, Max, the problem is not that the mouse is in the maze, but that the maze is in the mouse.”

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Every once in a while a book comes along that makes you question the way things are. This is the book. Deepak Malhotra allows you to glimpse a world of your own making without the limits and barriers that others create. An excellent read."
—Stephen R. Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and The Leader in Me

"A magnificent story with a powerful message. As someone who has encouraged scores of professionals into breaking through the maze and defining their own pursuits, I find this to be a gem of a book. A must-read."
—Vinod Khosla, cofounder and former CEO and Chairman, Sun Microsystems, and founder, Khosla Ventures

"Deepak Malhotra tackles our assumptions about business and life with humor, zest, and wisdom in this delightful fable. If you've ever rankled at the thought of being just another mouse in the maze, this is the book for you."
—Daniel H. Pink, author of Drive and A Whole New Mind

"An excellent book with sound lessons on how to change our circumstance and create new realities in our personal and professional lives."
—Deepak Chopra, Adjunct Professor, Kellogg School of Management, and coauthor of War of the Worldviews

"A book that will inspire the imagination of mice and managers. A formula for breaking out of the maze and creating new realities in life and in business."
—Barry Nalebuff, Milton Steinbach Professor, Yale School of Management; cofounder, Honest Tea; and coauthor of Thinking Strategically, The Art of Strategy, and Why Not?

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781609949761
  • Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/2/2013
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 120
  • Sales rank: 304,407
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Deepak Malhotra is a Professor in the Negotiations, Organizations, and Markets Unit at the Harvard Business School. He teaches Negotiation in the MBA program and in a wide variety of executive programs including the Advanced Management Program (AMP), the Owner/President Management Program (OPM), Changing the Game, Strategic Negotiation, and Families in Business. He has been published in top journals in the fields of management, psychology, and conflict resolution and has won numerous awards for both his teaching and his research. Malhotra has also been widely cited and quoted in the mainstream media and is a regular guest on CNBC's nightly program, "The Big Idea".

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Read an Excerpt


For those who refuse to live as mice in someone else's maze
By Deepak Malhotra

Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2011 Deepak Malhotra
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-60994-067-6


I MOVED YOUR CHEESE The Good Book....................3
Even the "Impossible"....................25
Who Moved My Cheese?....................44
I Moved Your Cheese....................50
The Maze in the Mouse....................59
A Mouse Like No Other....................67
Some Mice Are Big....................69
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS Reflection Questions for Individuals....................80
Discussion Questions for Groups and Book Clubs....................83
Discussion Questions for Your Organization (or Team)....................86
A Note to Educators....................89
A Note to Managers and Executives....................92
Questions to the Author....................95
About the Author....................101

Chapter One


They called it a revolution. The lesson—the insight—had spread throughout the maze. Scarcely a mouse remained who had not heard what was contained in the good book.

The insight was profound. More importantly, it did not rely too much on one's ability to reason. And any mouse will tell you that this attribute is the hallmark of all great truths. So it was accepted as perhaps the greatest, and certainly the most important, truth. And it was all so simple.

The book made it clear: Change happens. You can sit there and complain about it, or you can change with the times. Do not fear change. Accept change. What happens in the maze is beyond your control. What you can control is your reaction.

Now, just because every mouse had come to understand this insight does not mean that every one of them was able to adopt it in practice. Some succeeded fully. They learned that change is inevitable and uncontrollable. They accepted that they were helpless to control the workings of the maze—fate, they called it—and they pledged to adapt.

Many others succeeded to a lesser degree. They still had moments of fear, immobility, depression, and despair. But such moments were less frequent than in the past. These mice improved their lot in the maze considerably.

To be sure, there were also mice who rarely thought about what the good book taught them. They agreed with it in principle but did not have the time or energy to change their ways. After all, habits are hard to break. They would work on it later—maybe next week, maybe next year.

Overall, life in the maze was now quite different. In the past, when cheese moved from one location to another, all the mice were in despair. They could not understand what happened. They cursed their luck. They sat and waited in the cheese corner of the past and prayed for its return. They got agitated and lost their temper. They got angry and made an already difficult life even worse.

Now, after reading the good book, the mice reacted differently. The disappearance of the cheese was still traumatic, and it was still impossible to understand why the cheese had moved. But now the mice began to go in search of new cheese depots. Those who had fully adopted the good book's philosophy were the first to set about in search of the new cheese.

Those who struggled with the philosophy, who found it difficult to break old habits, were slower to move. But they, too, understood that they had to change with changing times. They, too, eventually went to look for more cheese.

By learning to change with changing times, the mice succeeded in finding more cheese. They found it more quickly than they had ever done in the past. The good book was right! They had cheese ... more cheese, and sooner than ever before. It does not get much better than that if you are a mouse.

And so the mice no longer questioned why the cheese moved. Everyone agreed that such questions had no answers. They did not try to devise plans to try to stop the cheese from moving. Only a fool would think that fate could be controlled. Above all, they never again asked the unreasonable question, "Who moved my cheese?"

Life was simpler now. It all came down to a very simple equation:

You want cheese
The cheese is no longer here = Go elsewhere to find the cheese.

After all, for a mouse in a maze, cheese is really all that matters.

But then ...

Well ... then there was Max.

And Max was altogether different.

Chapter Two


When Max was younger, he once asked his parents why there was a maze. His parents didn't understand the question. When he persisted, they told him that some questions have no answers and that the maze simply is. When he asked why the maze was designed the way it was, and why it had so many useless paths, they told him not to waste time wondering why. They told him to focus, instead, on learning how to navigate the maze. You don't get to the cheese by wondering why, they said; you get to it by running around the maze as fast as you can. The maze, they explained, was a given. You work with what you're given. It is pretty arrogant for a young mouse to think that he could do otherwise, they cautioned.

Max was not blessed with the virtue of blind obedience. Instead, he continued to annoy his parents, his friends, his teachers, and anyone else who made the mistake of discussing such matters with him. The more he questioned, the more he discovered how little the other mice understood. They knew a whole lot, but they understood very little.

One day Max came across the good book. It infuriated him. He could not figure out how such a book could be so widely read and so blindly accepted. Upon reading the book, all the other mice had resolved to accept change without question because change, it taught, was inevitable and uncontrollable.

But Max was different. And upon reading the book, Max resolved quite the opposite.

Max was determined to discover who had moved the cheese. He was determined to discover why they had moved it. He was determined to discover why the maze was the way it was. And he was determined to change what he did not like about the maze. And so he set about it.

And a long time passed.

Chapter Three


Zed was a mouse who did not care much for cheese. He ate cheese because it helped sustain his body. And he cared to sustain his body mostly because it was needed to sustain his mind.

Zed had a reputation for being wise, although few mice had ever spoken with him in great depth. He was a popular mouse, but he usually only spoke on important matters when someone else initiated the conversation. Zed loved company, but he seemed to appreciate moments of solitude just as much.

Zed had a magnetic personality. He had a certain look in his eyes—and a half smile—that mesmerized his audiences. And an audience is what they were—the mice who visited him were there to be in his company, to hear him speak, to be rejuvenated. No one could quite explain why he had such an effect on them.

What they knew, and what every other mouse came to know, was that Zed was a mouse like no other. He did not care for cheese, he did not care to learn how to navigate the maze, and he did not feel compelled to follow the routines and customs of the other mice. Yet, somehow, it was clear that Zed loved his life—the life of a mouse—more than any other mouse they had ever known.

As a result, those who knew Zed—or had heard of him—simultaneously revered and feared him. They revered him because his mere presence—his manner of being—inspired them to be great. They feared him because he was living proof that someone who seemed to challenge their every belief about what was important could still be happy—and in fact, could be happier than any other mouse in the maze.

One day, on seeing Zed sitting quietly in one corner of the maze, a small group of mice gathered. As Zed lifted his eyes, he noticed that they were eager to speak with him. Zed had grown accustomed to such unplanned, informal discussions. He was accustomed to the way they began, the way they progressed, and the way they tended to end. He did not expect any surprises.

That, perhaps, is why they are called surprises.

Chapter Four


One of the younger mice in the group spoke first.

"Zed," began the young mouse, "my friends and I were discussing the good book. We were talking about how we might learn to accept change—how we might get past idle speculation about 'why' change happens. You know, it is said that change is inevitable and cannot be controlled ... Well, certainly you've read the good book. Anyway, my friend here mentioned that you do not care much for the book. That you do not really believe what it says. Which is—well, I must say that I think you're wrong. I mean ... Of course, I want to hear why you would think so. Everyone says that you are a great thinker and that you are very wise. But ... I know that you're wrong. How can you possibly reject the great insight of our age—of all ages! I was hoping—well, we were hoping to hear what you had to say about it. It's not true, is it? Do you disagree that change is inevitable?"

Zed smiled. "I do not disagree. The good book is quite right. Change is inevitable."

The young mouse was visibly relieved. He felt he should thank Zed. He was about to express his gratitude when Zed spoke again.

"I do not disagree," Zed repeated. "But I think it is unimportant. It is irrelevant."

The young mouse was stunned. He wished Zed had outright disagreed with him. Difficult as it is to hear that your thinking is flawed, it is much worse to hear that your thinking is pointless.

"How can you say that!" exclaimed the young mouse.

"Well," replied Zed, "let me start by asking you a question. You tell me that change is inevitable. What is so important about this insight of yours?"

"It ... it tells us how to live. It explains what is important. It explains what we can control and what we cannot—so it helps us focus. It tells us how to make the best use of our time." The young mouse was beginning to gain confidence. "It teaches us to be efficient. It helps us become more effective. It does all of this—and perhaps more."

"Very well," said Zed. "That is an impressive list."

The young mouse looked pleased.

"Will you indulge me just once more?" asked Zed.

"Yes, of course," replied the young mouse.

"You say the insight explains what is important," started Zed. "Tell me—what have you learned is important? What have you been taught to focus on? What goal does the good book suggest you spend your time pursuing? What are you efficient at achieving? Your effectiveness is measured by what standard?"

The young mouse looked at him. He thought about answering each question in turn. He was preparing to do this—and then it dawned on him. There was one answer. The same one answer to every question Zed asked. And the young mouse fell silent, shocked by what he realized.

More mice had gathered by now. All eyes were on the young mouse. They were waiting for him to answer. They were getting anxious.

"Cheese," answered the young mouse. "The answer to all of your questions is cheese. That is what I have learned is important. It is what all of us have been taught to focus on. It is what we spend our time chasing. All we can control is how fast we run in search of cheese. The best among us are efficient at finding cheese. Our effectiveness—the standard by which we measure success—is just that: How much cheese do we have?" And then he added a final word. It was not in response to anything that Zed had asked. It was in response to the realization that overwhelmed him.

"Why," stated the young mouse solemnly. It was an answer—a conclusion—and not a question.

Zed smiled compassionately.

By now, the crowd was much agitated. They felt betrayed by the young mouse.

"What is the meaning of all this?" shouted an elderly mouse. "What is the point of this discussion? Who are you to decide what is relevant? Why, you agreed that change is inevitable—that it is uncontrollable—and—"

"I did not agree to that," interrupted Zed. "I did not agree that change is uncontrollable."

"If you disagree, then you're a fool," sputtered the elderly mouse.


The elderly mouse continued, angrily. "And what can be more important than this? What can be more relevant to a mouse than this?

Do you not wish for us to pursue what might make us happy?"

Zed continued to look at the young mouse. The young mouse had moved closer to Zed, away from the crowd. Zed looked at him, gently, and spoke, answering the elderly mouse but still addressing the young mouse.

"What I wish is not that you pursue happiness, but that you actually find happiness. Is it possible to pursue happiness if the pursuit itself does not make you happy?"

The young mouse answered, sadly: "No. Not in the maze. In the maze, there is only pursuit. It has no end. No matter how much cheese you accumulate, you keep running. You don't find happiness here. You only find more cheese."

The crowd was in despair. The elderly mouse took to the offensive.

"Those are fine words. But they are not worth much. A mouse must take the maze as given. All a mouse has to think about is how best to navigate this maze. And when the cheese moves, the only thing a mouse has to ponder is how to find it again. What would you have us ponder instead?"

Zed looked at the elderly mouse and smiled. Then he answered.

"Why, there are many more interesting and important things to ponder," Zed responded matter-of-factly. "Have you ever thought about why change is inevitable? Have you ever wondered why the maze is the way it is—what purpose it serves? Have you ever thought to ask why mice spend their entire lives in search of cheese? Have you ever wondered, upon finding it missing, who moved my cheese?"

The last of these struck the crowd. All at once the anxious mice began to retort—to shout:

"This is a waste of time."

"Why ask such questions?"

"It's preposterous."




"No one can know who moved the cheese."

"There is no answer to that."

The crowd settled, and there was a brief silence.

And then, shattering the stillness of the moment, a voice from behind the crowd was heard. The voice was powerful, confident, and dispassionate—almost indifferent. But the words were spoken deliberately.

"I know who moved the cheese," it said. "And I know why they moved it."

Chapter Five


The crowd was aghast. They turned to see who had spoken those impossible words. They turned to see whether anyone would lay claim to such an utterance. They turned and saw Max. No one had seen him in almost a year. He was exultant.

Max was looking past the crowd—through them. His gaze was fixed on Zed. He did not seem to notice the crowd.

"I know who moved the cheese," Max repeated. "And I will tell you about it." He was speaking only to Zed.

The crowd was silent. They would have quickly disregarded the outburst as a lunatic's rant, but Max had a look in his eyes that dismissed such a notion. Each of the mice, individually, knew that he was serious. As a group, they were unwilling to consider this possibility. They did not know what to think. They did not want to think. Each of them was waiting for someone else to do the thinking—for someone in the crowd to decide how they should all react. Finally, the elderly mouse snickered.


Excerpted from I MOVED YOUR CHEESE by Deepak Malhotra Copyright © 2011 by Deepak Malhotra. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

1. The Good Book
2. Max
3. Zed
4. Why
5. Even the “Impossible”
6. Up
7. Big
8. Out
9. Who Moved My Cheese?
10. I Moved Your Cheese
11. Walls
12. The Maze in the Mouse
13. A Mouse Like No Other
14. Some Mice Are Big

Reflection Questions for Individuals
Discussion Questions for Groups and Book Clubs
Discussion Questions for Your Organization (or Team)
A Note to Educators
A Note to Managers and Executives
Questions to the Author
About the Author

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 24 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 24 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 21, 2012

    Intelligently written, Expensive, Trash Theraphy! You can watch

    Intelligently written, Expensive, Trash Theraphy!

    You can watch Deepak Malhotra for free and get most of the same sound bites on YouTube, in case you missed them. I checked this book out for free at my local library. It's just chock full of ways to miraculously change your life by refusing to be a rat in a maze. Now, why didn't I think of that!? This is for anyone who never read a highly promoted "best selling" motivational book in their hands before. There's absolutely nothing new, nothing that I haven't read or heard or seen on TV before. Please.....get it from your Library before dropping your hard-earned cash on this book. Each of us has a set of problems that are unique to us. The way we are capable of handling our problems are unique to us. This book is full or irony. If we ALL buy it, and ALL try to fit into the touted methods of fixing our unique problems.......aren't we going back into the Deepak Malhotra Maze? Just think about it. (if you still have doubts, go to your free Library for a copy)

    8 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 23, 2011

    Just loved it!

    Loved the book. It's a quick read with the perfect combination of humor and thought-provoking"ness".

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2012


    Holy shiz. Cheese first result. Second private book i've randomly found. O.o

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2012


    Lol im telling sl

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2012

    Great Book

    loved it. this book can help you learn how to overcome obstacles.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2012


    Go to liger games and ask if u coukd join

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2012


    *he hugs back* what good would that do? Me ad stormeh would get a new book. =__=

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2012

    This was a book amazing literture

    I couldnt put this book down i needed to know whos cheese he moved

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2012



    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2012


    *she hugs chu.*

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2012



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  • Posted July 26, 2012

    This was a o.k. read. Not what i expected.

    This was a o.k. read. Not what i expected.

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  • Posted July 24, 2012


    If you are needing a bust in life due to certain roadblocks, disappointments, uncertainties, etc., this is just the book for you. It is short, concise and to the point. I love the analogy of mice in a maze. Sometimes that's how my life feels and I just needed reminding that I could take the lid off my circumstances and go beyond my limitations. - O

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  • Posted July 22, 2012

    I wasn't impressed

    But maybe it was just me.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2012

    Recommended for readers of Who Moved My Cheese

    If you didn't read its predecessor, you won't understand this one. It's short (story portion is about 65 pgs. or so) and does give another option for looking at your personal situation for which you purchased the book. It is direct and to the point. Took about an hour to read. I would consider this a continuation of sorts of Who Moved My Cheese and am happy I purchased it. I will recommend and share it with others.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2012


    I liked this read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2012

    I love cheese

    A wonderful short story which leaves you with a lot to think about. I really enjoyed it and look forward to answering the questions at the end of the chapter.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2012

    Great book

    Have a great message worth reading

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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