Book Review: Out of the Maze

It has been five years since my last post.  The 9 to 5 and life in generally have taken my attention elsewhere.  However, I still do my best to pick up the pen from time to time.  Although time is a luxury, I recently managed to squeeze in a quick read called Out of the Maze, by the famous author Spencer Johnson, who co-penned the bestseller Who Moved My Cheese some years ago.

If Who Moved My Cheese challenges us to embrace change, then Out of the Maze tells us just how to do it.  While it is easier said than done for most people, the ideas preached are surprisingly easy to grasp. Some points may seem overly obvious but perhaps this is why so many overlook them.  The story of the mice, Hem and Haw, continue to take center stage in this sequel. A new star, Hope, joins the mix and becomes Hem's new companion in their quest to finding a new food supply.  The underlying message is to challenge our beliefs, especially those that are so deeply entrenched as facts in our mind.  We should also re-explore all dark corners and dead ends of the maze as we may uncover a way out that was previously unfathomed.  It is also important to let go of old tools and baggage in the process so we can act on our new beliefs. If we do all this, opportunities will likely surface.

Some people are reluctant to abandon old beliefs because they are afraid of shortchanging their true selves.  However, Johnson stresses that adopting a new belief does not change who we fundamentally are. I agree as we are not defined by our beliefs, but rather by our character.  Our beliefs in fact, are also shaped by our character.  For instance, if I am adventurous (and brave), I may believe that jumping out of a plane is a good leisure activity.  The story rewards Hem by letting him discover a new staple, apples -- when he finally let go of his belief that cheese can be his only diet.

The ending of the book is also very telling.  Hem found a world of opportunities when he finally ventured out of the maze.  On the other side of the wall, there is an abundance of food which many including his best friend Haw, are already enjoying.

This book is a delightful read as it gives hope to those who feel lost in a maze. It resonates as I am feeling very much so at this stage of my life.  Questions like where is my career headed, can I retire by 40, and when can I focus on my scholarly work, have been chipping away at me for some time.  To answer those questions, I will need to look beyond what I already know and try new things.  One thing I won't do for sure is to wait like Hem did before finally embarking on the new journey.

Let's go!



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