More Cheese

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To follow up on an earlier blog, my favorite speaker at the NIRSA show was Kathy Cleveland Bull, whose presentation was entitled, "Get to the Cheese," based on Spencer Johnson's best-seller, "Who Moved My Cheese?"

The underlying theme of the presentation dealt with the goals we have in life and how we go about achieving those goals. (Cheese is a symbol of what's important to us.) Bull used a quote from a man named Sydney Harris, who said, "Our dilemma is that we hate change and love it at the same time. What we want is for things to remain the same, but get better."

Bull showed a cartoon (Yea!) that involved two mice, Sniff and Scurry, and two little men, Hem and Haw, who all went through a maze every day to go after a big mountain of cheese. Once the mother lode of cheese was gone, the mice quickly figured out where to get more. The little men, however, couldn't understand that they ate all their cheese and were resistant to find more.

Sniff can smell change in the air. Scurry goes into action quickly. Hem does not want change at all. Haw simply changes and moves on. Like most of the attendees at the session, I fit into the Haw category.

Bull, who worked in higher education for many years before starting her own consulting company, showed how difficult it was for her family to accept change in their lives. She told a personal story about how her mother suffered from early onset dementia in her 40s and died soon after. Bull said that there was a 50 percent chance that she or her twin sister would also get early onset dementia. Sadly, her twin is now suffering from it.

Bull cited William Bridges' Change Cycle in which there are three phases of change: endings, a neutral zone and new beginnings. Most of us are more afraid of change than we would like to admit, Bull said. At some point, we have to free ourselves to find "new cheese." Bull encouraged us to "share the cheese" both at work and at home. I already have.

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