Who Moved My Cheese? – Spencer Johnson

Who Moved My Cheese? – Spencer Johnson

Someone at work recommended I read this, as the project I am on is nearing completion, so I’m interviewing and applying for new roles. She said, “Your Cheese has moved, hopefully you’ve prepared for a change and are ready to adapt to a new environment.” I was a bit confused, and thought it was a silly comment, so I picked up the book and investigated further.

Each of us has our own idea of Cheese, and we pursue our Cheese because we believe it will make use happy and successful. When we get it, we become attached and can feel entitled. And when we lose it, it becomes traumatic and is often a surprise. When our Cheese moves, we have two options: adapt and change, or complain and question. If we don’t adapt, we won’t succeed.

Events happen without warning or explanation. Being prepared to adapt at times of distress puts us in a situation to always succeed. If we don’t change, we become extinct.

The majority driver in not changing is fear. If we let fear suppress our drive to compete, we become paralyzed by the unknown. Fear can be good, so we should often ask, “What would I do if I weren’t afraid?” When we are afraid things are going to get worse if we don’t do something, it can prompt us into action. But it is not good when we are so afraid that it keeps us from doing anything at all. What we are afraid of is never as bad as it is imagined. The fear built up in the mind is worse than the situation that exists. When we change what we believe, we change what we do.

By preparing to adapt to change, unfortunate situations will become speedbumps rather than road blocks.


Choose Yourself – James Altucher

Choose Yourself – James Altucher

I try not to get too engulfed in the self-help/coaching realm, and while James Altucher doesn’t label himself as one, his work typically falls in the category. That said, this book is full of practical insights, not BS and fluff. It is primarily directed towards individuals wanting to pursue a career that’s “non-traditional”, but still has plenty of great insights on the dichotomy of corporatism vs. capitalism.

Choosing yourself is about having confidence in your own work, building a platform and not being defined by the jury-rigged system of tradition. Haters are going to hate whatever you do. “In life, you will always have 30 percent of people who love you, 30 percent who hate you and 30 percent who couldn’t care less.”

Choosing yourself is not about rejecting working at a large company, it’s about ensuring you do what you want to do, and a lot of times that means pursuing a non-traditional path.

Human beings are born pioneers. While capitalism has produced wonders, corporatism has forced us into cubes instead of outside in the world. To harness the freedom and succeed in the Choose Yourself era, James recommends: (1) Only doing things you want, and (2) The Daily Practice. The daily practice is a series of habits aimed at cultivating positive results. Some habits in my daily practice are: reading, running, meditating, learning about business models, and trying new food.  A true daily practice has four pillars: (1) physical, (2) emotional, (3) mental, and (4) spiritual.

If you find yourself stuck doing a job only to make sure you are happy in other parts of your life – so the grind doesn’t get you down – a daily practice can help. The daily practice helps open up opportunities so one day you won’t have to rely on the work you don’t want to do. To Choose Yourself is to choose yourself, not letting anyone else decide your career path for you.

Most ultra-successful people were once labeled eccentric, weird or non-traditional. Steve Jobs got fired from the company he founded, then went on to start a new one, and now we have Apple and Pixar. Don’t be an idiot, but if the consequences are minimal, don’t ask for permission, set out and strive for what you want – ask for forgiveness later. The world doesn’t provide autonomy, you have to create it.

The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist follows Santiago as he searches for a hidden treasure. Through many of Odysseus-like adventures, Santiago learns the importance of aligning desire and passion; “wherever your heart is, that is where you’ll find your treasure.” When one finds their internal treasure, seldom few will believe – it is then that we must proceed forward towards what we want.

When we fail to recognize the importance of each day, everyday becomes the same as the next. Santiago learns from this that one must not live in either the past or future. One must be interested in only the present. For if you can concentrate on the present, you will be happy.

It is then that he realized he was living the greatest lie, “that at a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate.” Santiago takes control of his situation, ending his pursuit of the hidden treasure to go back and find the inner treasure his heart had always desired, the woman he left behind.

“There is only one way to learn. It’s through action.” You can study, read, and listen until you turn blue in the face, but the full experience is when you take action, take ownership, and align what you truly desire with what you will pursue. Pursuing money and material will not provide happiness. Happiness comes from the heart and soul.