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Does your Roomba Have a Name?

A couple years ago, my favorite mother-in-law had a brilliant idea. She thought that my wife

might like a Roomba. I thought, “Great idea!” So we got one; and she bought another for herself. (By the way, so we are clear, yes, one can have a favorite mother-in-law, and still have only one - besides, I am her favorite son-in-law.) In case anyone is not sure what a Roomba is, it is a robot vacuum cleaner.

We all live busy lives, and rarely does someone enjoy cleaning. If you do enjoy cleaning, you may have decided to make a business out of it. One of my favorite phrases is “If you enjoy your job, you never “work” another day in your life.” If this is true for you, let me make your day!

Three (3) Easy Steps to the Roomba Process.

There are 3 easy steps to the Roomba process. First, find the best location for the Roomba home station (ie. where it will live and charge its battery). The second step is to program the day and time for your Roomba to run. And the third step, name your Roomba. Silly? No! Fun? Yes! Some friends have named their Roomba Rosie (yep, you guessed it, after the Jetson’s robot maid :) ). My mother-in-law named hers Lucy, and there’s always the option to have a male Roomba, my sister-in-law has MAC cleaning her house. And we have named ours, Hazel, after the 70’s TV show, Hazel, where she was the house cleaner. She was “all heart,” and that fit our Roomba.

Does your “Hazel” Get STUCK?

Well, we have had Hazel for at least a couple years now. She does a very good job of keeping the floors clean enough for daily living. However, I am hoping that the new ones are “smarter.” There are at least two spots where she gets stuck - REPEATEDLY. And a third seems to be developing. She nearly always gets stuck under the bar kick plate, frequently under a chair in the casual sitting area, and lately under the dishwasher. The first two are somewhat understandable as the rug can create a height differential that allows some initial entry into a tight place, that further develops into a wedging situation and creates difficulty backing out.

Ok. I understand that sometimes things don’t work the way we expect them. That’s not the frustrating part. Once Hazel is reset, she may head another direction, but often returns and gets stuck again - in the same spot! That is why it is frustrating! I certainly would like her to learn from her mistakes because I didn’t get her so I would have to reset her, even several times due to the same “stuck” point.

And yet, how often do I do the exact same thing?! Here’s a simple example. We have a 2-story house with a basement. That means there are stairs going up to the bedrooms on the 2nd floor and there are stairs going down to the basement. We have placed a basket on the main floor on the stairs leading up and one on the stairs leading down. We use the basket to hold things that are to be carried up or down to the other level at some future time. The problem for me is that I don’t always pay attention to the basket. When do I notice? On a return trip. No big deal I tell myself - I’ll get it next time. And do I? No, well sometimes, but not most of the time. For me when I forget it twice - that’s usually when I just fix it. I make a quick trip up or down and put the item away.

Now if this kind of forgetfulness or thinking pattern were only in simple situations that do not really matter, it wouldn’t be so bad. But it is not. I don’t know about you, but I make these kinds of mistakes in situations that are really important - like ones that involve my wife - the single most valuable person in my life. The example that comes to mind is planning a couple’s retreat for early next year. She had one idea of what to do, and I had another. Worse than that - I liked my part of the idea (and she liked hers) that led to our discussion going south. Why do I dig into my perspective, and think it’s so good already, that it can’t be improved?! - it’s like the Roomba getting stuck! There’s nearly always a better way to do it.

What is the BEST way to LEARN from mistakes?

I learned from John Maxwell a while ago that it is not experience that makes the best teacher. It is evaluated experience that works best. In the first example where I forget or don’t pay attention to the basket as I pass it - I just took care of it after forgetting twice. But what do I do in a real important situation with my wife? Answer: Recognize there’s nearly always a better way to do something. The challenge is how do I act upon this knowledge? (The basket example is easy - just do it, now or later, it’s not that big of a deal.) When it comes to involving others, I need to realize that when I come up with an idea about doing something, I must let go of my ego (and my current idea), and allow a better idea to come along and simultaneously grow the relationship with the most important person in my life.

Here’s my new current method: I am focusing more on valuing her, and then clarifying the goal (are we thinking with the same goal in mind?). If we both focus on the same subject, then we will come up with the best idea, and both win!

If I can add value to your thinking through one of these types of challenging situations, let’s do coffee; however, do not ask me to be a marriage counselor - I am not qualified. :) If you need a “thinking partner” I am game!

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