It is safe to assume most of the 99 students recognized Tuesday night at the awards banquet for the Kentucky New Era/Rotary Regional Academic All-Star awards program had never heard of the classic self-improvement book, “Who Moved My Cheese?” Most of the students were not even born when the book was published in 1998.
However, Dr. Keith Toms, a Hopkinsville physician who grew up in this community and graduated from Christian County High School in 1992, made an excellent choice when he framed his keynote address around the book, which has sold more than 25 million copies and been published in more than 30 languages.
The middle and high school students who heard Toms’ message have already achieved notable academic success and will soon be in college preparing for their careers. They can expect to have many jobs in a lifetime — and some of them will even change professional careers one or more times. The world is moving quickly. These students will face many challenges and opportunities that require them to embrace change, which is why we appreciated Toms’ references to the story.
Written by physician and management consultant Spencer Johnson “Who Moved My Cheese” is a parable that explores reactions to change.
The book follows four characters, a pair of mice named Scurry and Sniff and two little humans named Hem and Haw. They live in a maze and early on they have a reliable source of cheese in one section of the maze. Then the predictable source of cheese is gone. The mice are the first to realize they will have to search another part of the maze for cheese. Then Haw heads off to start his search. Hem, the one most resistant to change, can barely bring himself to leave the place he expects to find cheese forever.
The book explores big themes in life — hopes, dreams, motivation and success. We all face challenges that require us to change, adapt and grow. That’s life.
We can all learn from Toms’ message.
Kentucky New Era editorials are the consensus opinion of the editorial board, which includes Publisher Taylor W. Hayes, Opinion Editor Jennifer P. Brown and Editor Eli Pace.