|Cory laughed in agreement. “Me too. I probably need to let go of a bad
Angela countered, “Or, perhaps the ‘Old Cheese’ is just old behavior. What we really need to let go of is the behavior that keeps causing our bad relationship. And then move on to a better way of thinking and acting.”
“Ouch!” Cory reacted. “Good point. The New Cheese is a new relationship with the same person.”
Richard said, “I’m beginning to think there is more to this than I thought. I like the idea of letting go of old behavior instead of letting go of the relationship. Repeating the same behavior will just get you the same results.
“Instead of changing jobs, maybe I should be one of the people helping my company change. I’d probably have a better job by now if I did.”
Then Becky, who lived in another city but had returned for the reunion, said, “As I was listening to the story and to everyone’s comments here, I’ve had to laugh at myself. I’ve been like Hem for so long, hemming and hawing and afraid of change. I didn’t realize how many other people did this as well. I’m afraid I’ve passed it on to my children without even knowing it.
“As I think about it, I realize change really can lead you to a new and better place, although you’re afraid it won’t at the time.”
“I remember a time when our son was a sophomore in high school. My husband’s job required us to move from Illinois to Vermont and our son was upset because he had to leave his friends. He was a star swimmer and the high school in Vermont had no swim team. So, he was angry with us for making him move.
“As it turned out, he fell in love with the Vermont mountains, took up skiing, skied on his college team and now lives happily in Colorado.”
“If we had all enjoyed this Cheese story together, over a cup of hot chocolate, we could have saved our family a lot of stress.”
Jessica said, “I’m going home to tell my family this story. I’ll ask my children who they think I am-Sniff, Scurry, Hem or Haw-and who they feel they are. We could talk about what we feel our family’s Old Cheese is and what the New Cheese could be.”
“That’s a good idea,” Richard said.
Frank then commented, “I think I’m going to be more like Haw and move with the Cheese and enjoy it! And I’m going to pass this story along to my friends who are worried about leaving the military and what the change will mean to them. It could lead to some interesting discussions.”
Michael said, “Well, that’s how we improved our business. We had several discussions about what we got from the Cheese story and how we could apply it to our own situation.
“It was great because we had language that was fun for us to use to talk about how we were dealing with change. It was very effective, especially as it spread deeper into the company.”
“How so?” Nathan asked.
“Well, the further we went into our organization, the more people we found who felt they had less power. They were understandably more afraid of what the change imposed from above might do to them. So they resisted change.
“In short, a change imposed is a change opposed.
“I only wished I’d heard the Cheese story sooner,” Michael added.
“How come?” Carlos asked.
“Because by the time we got around to addressing the changes, our business had already fallen off so badly that we had to let people go, including some good friends. It was hard on all of us. However, practically everyone, those who left and those who stayed, said the Cheese story helped them see things differently and cope better.
“Those who had to go out and look for a new job said it was hard at first but recalling the story was a great help to them.”
Angela asked, “What helped them most?”
Michael replied, “After they got past their fear, they told me the best thing was realizing that there was New Cheese out there just waiting to be found!
“They said holding a picture of New Cheese in their minds made them feel better, and so they did better in job interviews. Several got better jobs.”
Laura asked “What about the people who remained in your company?”
“Well,” Michael said, “instead of complaining about the changes that were happening, people now said, ‘They just moved our Cheese. Let’s look for the New Cheese.’ It saved a lot of time and reduced stress.
“Before long, the people who had been resisting saw the advantage of changing. They even helped bring about change.”
Cory said, “Why do you think that happened?”
“I think a lot of it had to do with the kind of peer pressure that can exist in a company.
“What happens in most organizations you’ve been in when a change is announced by top management? Do most people say the change is a great idea or a bad idea?”
“A bad idea,” Frank answered.