One of the best quotes from the book Who Moved My Cheese (which I have been covering throughout this month) has got to be: “Old beliefs will not lead to new cheese.”  

You might be thinking, what’s wrong with old beliefs? And who needs new cheese, anyway? What’s wrong with the cheese I have?! 

Well, here’s the thing: the cheese is going to move. What used to work for getting cheese will eventually stop working. Why? Times change. The market evolves. People’s preferences and buying behaviours change. Telephone operators used to get their cheese by sitting at a switchboard patching through calls. Imagine if an operator had steadfastly refused to leave his/her post when technology changed how we make phone calls. There’d be a mighty dusty skeleton sitting there today! 

What Can You Control? 

Refusing to let go of the old ways of doing things does not serve you in your pursuit of your cheese. You cannot control market forces and trends. You cannot control the competition. In general terms, you cannot change how business and industry changes and evolves. For example, think of the Blackberry. It was the first smartphone on the market and was hugely successful in the early going. They engaged the enthusiasts, then the early adopters, and then the main market share. But, when they hit that mainstream market share peak, others entered the market – Apple, Samsung, etc. – with a different value proposition and some awesome innovations. Blackberry stuck with their value proposition (high security) and just kept trying to iterate (you know, “new and improved”) their product. The Blackberry fell out of fashion and RIM, the parent company, almost bit the dust. After losing billions of dollars and many talented workers and executives, they finally decided to pivot into AI and the unmanned vehicles market, and they are now rebuilding. A hard lesson to learn. 

As the old adage goes, “You can either have control, or you can have growth, but you can’t have both.” What can you control? Your ability to adapt. You nimbleness as a company. Your willingness to explore new ideas. You can, and should, be continuously conducting market research to assess where the market is going, what your customers want from you, and how you can better serve them with new technology, processes, products, marketing avenues, and distribution methods.  

What Stops Us from Moving with the Cheese? 

The thing that primarily interferes with our ability to be nimble and adaptive, pivoting to where the cheese has moved, is that old gremlin: FEAR. We want to keep ourselves and our business safe, right? We know how to do what we know how to do, and we’re confident and comfortable doing that stuff. This new stuff comes along, and we don’t know how to do that new stuff, and it’s not comfortable and we’re not confident because we’re not (yet) proficient. It’s unchartered territory. Scary. 

The belief that your primary responsibility is to be safe is an “old belief”. Dare I say, it’s a limiting belief. In business, your primary responsibility is to build a successful company. Calculated, strategic risk and being willing to move and adapt with market forces and trends are fundamental to business growth. 

You can pull yourself out of stagnation and decline by following these steps: 

  1. Continuously monitoring market trends and your business data. 
  2. Recognizing when you are in resistance to change and identifying the fear story that is causing that resistance. 
  3. Since fear limits you, understand that it is the fear story that is keeping you stuck. Resolve to let go of that fearful belief and create a new story that serves you and moves you forward. 

What old beliefs have caused you to stay stuck in something that is not working? Or, conversely, how have you baked into your business the resilience and resourcefulness that helps you easily and seamlessly move with the cheese? I want to hear your thoughts. 

And, as always, stay on point!