Out of the Maze: Summary Review

This is a summary review of Out of the Maze containing key details about the book.

What is Out of the Maze About?

"Out of the Maze" is a book by Spencer Johnson that provides a simple, yet powerful, framework for navigating through personal and professional challenges.

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Out of the Maze reveals what Hem(a character in Who Moved My Cheese?) did next--and how his discoveries can help you unlock the riddle of whatever maze you may face yourself. When you follow Hem and his new friend, Hope, on their new journey, you'll discover how to get more out of life by thinking outside the box. Or, in this case, outside the Maze.

Summary Points & Takeaways from Out of the Maze

Some key summary points and takeaways from the book include:

* In order to overcome obstacles and reach success, one must first understand the underlying causes of their difficulties and then develop a clear plan to address those issues.

* The book presents a series of steps to help individuals gain greater self-awareness, learn from their experiences, and make lasting changes. By following these steps, individuals can gain the skills and confidence they need to move forward, solve problems, and achieve their goals.

* Additionally, the book emphasizes the importance of persistence, adaptability, and a positive outlook in overcoming life's challenges.

Who is the author of Out of the Maze?

Spencer Johnson, M.D., is one of the world's most respected thinkers and beloved authors. Dr. Johnson earned a B.A. degree in Psychology from the University of Southern California, an M.D. degree from the Royal College of Surgeons, and medical clerkships at The Mayo Clinic and Harvard Medical School.

John David Mann is an award-winning author whose writings have earned the Nautilus Award, the Axiom Business Book Award (Gold Medal), Taiwan's Golden Book Award for Innovation, and the 2017 Living Now Book Awards “Evergreen Medal” for “contribution to positive global change.”

Out of the Maze Summary Notes

Summary Note: Taking Happiness and Success for Granted in Out of the Maze

Out of the Maze is a book that uses a story about two small people, Hem and Haw, to explore the human tendency to take happiness and success for granted. In the story, Hem and Haw find an infinite supply of cheese at Cheese Station C and settle down, becoming complacent and feeling entitled to the cheese. When the cheese suddenly disappears, Haw goes out to find a new supply while Hem stays behind, expecting the cheese to reappear. The cheese in the story represents happiness and success, and the story shows how we can become complacent and entitled when we have it, leading to difficulty when it disappears.

The story illustrates how change can be tough to accept because it represents the end of the world we know, the one where we've built our lives. It can be difficult to see others accept change because it may feel like they're ushering in the end of that world. The book highlights that many people, like Hem, refuse to move on until reality forces them to. When we take our happiness and success for granted, we risk becoming complacent and entitled, which can lead to difficulty when those things disappear. The book encourages us to be aware of this tendency and to cultivate a mindset of gratitude and adaptability. It teaches us that happiness and success are not entitlements, but gifts that require effort and appreciation to maintain.

Summary Note: Finding Happiness and Success through Change

The main theme of this excerpt from "Out of the Maze" is how we react to change and the loss of a source of happiness or success. Using the metaphor of cheese, the story shows how we can become complacent and entitled when we have found fulfillment, taking it for granted until it is suddenly gone. When we are faced with change, some of us may refuse to move on, like Hem, while others embrace it and move forward, like Haw.

The excerpt also highlights how we can be cautious and unhopeful when we are forced to navigate new territory. We may overlook potential sources of happiness or success because they look like dead ends or we are scared to venture too far from our comfort zones. However, if we remain open to new experiences and opportunities, we may discover alternative sources of fulfillment that we never considered before, like the apples in the story.

Despite finding a new source of happiness or success, we may still continue to chase after the old one out of habit. This shows that old habits die hard, and we may need to actively work to change our mindset and behaviors to fully embrace change and move forward.

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Summary Note: The Power of Changing Your Beliefs

The author focuses on the impact of change on our self-assurance and self-esteem. When we lose a source of happiness or success, we can become fixated on the past and resentful of the present. Hem's journey through the maze with Hope highlights the importance of finding a new strategy when things are not working out. Hope suggests that Hem should try a new belief to change his way of thinking about the lack of food. Hem initially rejects the idea, thinking that beliefs are a fundamental part of his identity and cannot be changed at will.

However, as the story progresses, we see that our beliefs are not fixed but can be changed with conscious effort. The book highlights the power of self-awareness and the willingness to examine our beliefs critically. We may need to challenge our long-held beliefs and assumptions to find a new perspective that can help us navigate change.

The lesson here is that sometimes, when we're stuck in a rut, we need to challenge our beliefs and find a new way of thinking about things. Changing our beliefs can lead to new insights, possibilities, and opportunities that were not visible before. It takes courage to challenge our beliefs and be open to new ideas, but it can lead to growth, self-discovery, and a renewed sense of purpose.

Summary Note: Changing Our Beliefs to Escape the Maze

The book highlights the concept of beliefs and how they can affect our lives. Hem reflects on his past beliefs and how they have impacted his journey in the maze. He realizes that beliefs are ideas that we can trust and that they can either release us from a dead end or keep us confined inside it. Hem's change in belief from only eating cheese to trying apples shows that we can change our minds without changing ourselves. We have the power to pick our beliefs, and they do not define who we are. Hem's thoughts lead him to question what beliefs he should adopt next.

Beliefs are powerful and can shape our lives, and this main idea reminds us that we have control over them. Our beliefs can either limit us or set us free, and we have the power to choose which beliefs we want to hold onto. We are not defined by our beliefs, and we can change them without changing ourselves. This main idea encourages us to challenge our existing beliefs and consider adopting new ones to help us navigate through life's challenges. By doing so, we may find new possibilities and escape from the maze of our own making.

Summary Note: Being Open to Possibilities: How to Embrace Change and Take Leaps of Faith

Hem is challenged to consider the idea of something beyond the maze. At first, Hem can't comprehend the concept of anything outside the maze, but Hope encourages him to consider the possibility that there might be something wonderful beyond it. This leads Hem to reflect on how he was able to change his beliefs about food from only eating cheese to trying apples. He realized that he had to take a leap of faith, be open to the possibility of something new, and be willing to try it even before he had a reason to believe it would work.

The theme of being open to possibilities is essential not only in the context of the book but in our daily lives. We can't move forward without being willing to embrace change and take leaps of faith. Often we limit ourselves by not believing something is possible, which stops us from trying. However, if we can shift our mindset and believe that something is attainable, we can open ourselves up to new opportunities and take the first step towards making our goals a reality.

This concept applies to many areas of life, including relationships, careers, and personal growth. We have to be open to the possibility of something different and believe that it's possible to achieve before we can even try. It may require taking a risk and trying something new, but the payoff can be enormous.

Summary Note: Persisting Through Disappointment: Finding Possibilities

The final main idea in Spencer Johnson's "Out of the Maze" is about persisting in the face of disappointment. Hem and Hope explore the maze, and after discarding Hem's fear-generating belief about the maze being dangerous, they find a door that leads to a sterile, empty room. Hem feels disappointed and is about to give up, but Hope reminds him to keep exploring. They discover a crack in the wall that leads to a tunnel, which leads to the outside world where they find abundance and happiness.

The lesson here is about not giving up too quickly and fully exploring possibilities. It's important to remember that things are not always what they appear to be, and sometimes the greatest opportunities can come from the most unexpected places. Disappointments can be discouraging, but with persistence and a willingness to explore new options, we can find success and happiness.

This idea applies to all aspects of life, whether it's in our personal relationships, careers, or other pursuits. It's essential to have an open mind, be willing to take risks, and remain resilient in the face of setbacks. By persisting through disappointment, we can find new possibilities and opportunities that we may have never discovered otherwise.

In summary, the key takeaway from the final idea in "Out of the Maze" is that we should persist through disappointment and keep exploring possibilities, even when things seem bleak. With an open mind, a willingness to take risks, and a resilient spirit, we can overcome challenges and find success in our lives.

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Summary Note: Discovering New Paths to Success and Happiness

One of the main ideas in "Out of the Maze" is about finding new sources of happiness and success. Hem realizes that his beliefs about what he needed to survive and succeed were limiting him. He had thought that cheese was the only source of food that could sustain him, but he discovered that there were other nourishing foods like apples. Similarly, we often hold onto beliefs that limit our thinking and prevent us from finding new sources of happiness and success. We need to be open to exploring new possibilities and discovering different paths that can lead us to fulfillment.

Hem's belief that the maze was dangerous and that he needed to avoid it held him back from finding a way out. He learned that the things we fear are often not as scary as they seem, and that the unknown can lead us to new opportunities. We must be willing to take risks and embrace the unknown in order to discover new paths to success and happiness.

Hem's third belief was that he was alone in his quest, but he had Hope with him the entire time. This reminds us that we are never truly alone. We have friends, family, and colleagues who can support us on our journey, even if it may not always seem like it.

Summary Note: The Power of Belief in Shaping Reality

One of the main ideas is the power of belief in shaping our reality, both positively and negatively, and the importance of examining our beliefs to ensure they are empowering us to live our best lives. The book provides examples on different levels of life to illustrate this idea. On the historical level, the belief that the Titanic was unsinkable led to a lack of lifeboats, which cost lives when the ship sank. On the economic level, companies like Blockbuster and Polaroid failed to adjust their beliefs about the safety of their products, leading to their downfall when new rivals emerged. On the personal level, the author of the book passed away from pancreatic cancer but instead of cursing the tumor, he wrote a thank you letter to it, embracing the opportunity to deepen his relationships with loved ones.

The book suggests that our beliefs are powerful tools that can shape our reality, and it's important to examine them regularly to ensure they are serving us in the best way possible. Our beliefs can limit us or empower us, and it's up to us to choose which path we take. By shifting our beliefs to ones that are more empowering and positive, we can create a better reality for ourselves and those around us. The author's example shows that even in the face of adversity, we can choose to see the positive aspects of our situation and use it as an opportunity for growth and connection.

Summary Note: Embracing New Possibilities

One of the main themes in the book is about the importance of cultivating an openness to possibilities and letting go of old beliefs that no longer serve us. The author argues that in order to find new sources of fulfillment, we need to examine our beliefs and differentiate between our core beliefs and peripheral beliefs. Core beliefs are our values and guiding principles that define our sense of purpose, while peripheral beliefs are the more flexible and temporary beliefs we have about the world and ourselves.

The author suggests that we should question and potentially change our peripheral beliefs, especially when they prevent us from pursuing our core beliefs. For example, someone who wants to help others might believe that becoming a doctor is the best way to achieve that, but upon further reflection, they may realize that writing books is a better way to fulfill their purpose. By letting go of old beliefs and embracing new possibilities, we can find greater fulfillment and live a more purposeful life.

The author also emphasizes the importance of joining forces with others in our life journey. By working together and supporting each other, we can overcome obstacles and achieve our goals. This requires us to let go of our fears and cultivate an openness to new experiences and relationships.

Book details

  • Print length: 96 pages
  • Genre: Self Help, Nonfiction, Business

What are the chapters in Out of the Maze?

Chapter 1 A Seminar: Chicago
Chapter 2 Out of the Maze
Chapter 3 The Original Story of Who Moved My Cheese?
Chapter 4 The New Story: What Happened Next
Chapter 5 Hem's Dilemma
Chapter 6 The Facts of the Matter
Chapter 7 Hem Ventures Into the Maze
Chapter 8 The Stranger
Chapter 9 Trying Harder
Chapter 10 Hem's Dream
Chapter 11 Hem Chooses a New Belief
Chapter 12 What if You Believed It Was Possible?
Chapter 13 "What's Outside the Maze?"
Chapter 14 Dark Corners and Blind Alleys
Chapter 15 Out of the Maze
Chapter 16 A Discussion

What do critics say?

Here's what one of the prominent reviewers had to say about the book: "Out of the Maze is a short, sweet, cheesy (yes) book — but it’s a calming, quick read and is likely to be in huge demand as an optimistic, accessible way to start thinking about change." — The Financial Times

* The editor of this summary review made every effort to maintain information accuracy, including any published quotes, chapters, or takeaways. If you want to enhance your personal growth, I recommend checking out my list of favorite personal growth books. These books have played a significant role in my life, and each one includes a summary and takeaways to help you apply the concepts.

Reading is Smart. Applying is Smarter:  Apply

Chief Editor

Tal Gur is an author, founder, and impact-driven entrepreneur at heart. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His journey and most recent book, The Art of Fully Living, has led him to found Elevate Society.

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