The Roomba Dilemma: When the $%*# Hits the Fan


4 Ways to Deal with a Crisis

Picture this: You’ve worked your socks off to secure a position on your company’s President’s Circle. This means you win a free vacation to a tropical destination, and you get to take someone special along to share the joy. So your wife weans the baby, and you secure care for the kiddos with the help of the grandparents and the nanny. It takes a solid year of hard work to make one of the top sales positions in the company; it takes almost as long to get everything ready for your week awayThe fact that you and your wife have not been away from your three young kids makes this an especially-big treat!

Once in the tropics, you Skype daily to make sure everything’s going great at home. Which it is. Until it isn’t. Until your dear old dog loses control of his bowel movements. In the house. During the day. Shortly before the Roomba’s scheduled cleaning time… So when the robot turns on and vacuums the living room, it finds the fresh pile of poop. And instead of sucking up dog hair and dust, it spreads the doo-doo around. Like Nutella on hot toast, it spreads the crap to the corners of the carpets with utmost precision. It does an especially good job of getting it under your wife’s desk. As if responding to the command, “Rub it in, Roomba!”

The nanny—bless her heart—tells you this once she had cleaned up what she could. “Please put the culprit in a bag in the garage,” you tell her between singing her praises. You don’t want to lose this nanny. She’s great with the kids! “We’ll deal with that sucker once we get home,” you assure her, and you and your wife start thinking of ways to repay her. You cannot secure a great nanny in a 1-click transaction on Amazon!

And over cocktails with colleagues, you laugh about the incident, feeling both guilty and relieved that you weren’t at home when it all played out…

True story. I met the couple during their trip. On a tropical beach, we all laughed and cringed with the sweet couple. And we wished them the very best at the end of the trip, knowing that they’re heading home to more than a reunion with their littles. If they were dreading going home, it didn’t show.

So, how do you deal with a crisis?

Find the Good

Any Serious Player would tell you that in good times and in bad, gratitude helps you find equilibrium. While there’s nothing good about a Roomba spreading poop around the house, the blessing is in the fact that the nanny was there to save the day. That she did so with grace (though undoubtedly gagging a time or twenty.) That it was not the baby who crawled through the crap.

Call in the Troops

Serious Players know that you cannot do life alone, and neither should you! Whether you turn to a close confidant or a someone you can count on to help clean up, community is what keeps your world from falling apart, even when you-know-what hits the fan.

Face the Music

With great community to support you, you can deal with the problem. Running away from the crisis doesn’t make it go away. Neither the old dog nor the Roomba knew the crisis they had caused. But the nanny dealt with it. (Hats off to her!)

Move On

Experiencing a crisis is not unique to Serious Players. But what Serious Players have in common is being able to learn from the dilemma and moving on. It doesn’t help to sit in it. Find professional help if you’re having a hard time moving on. Write a song about it if you must. Create a meme if you can. Find the humor if you dare so at just the right time, you can tell others of the time your good ol’ dog did a dance called the Roomba!

How about you? What crisis in your life turned out to be a great story later?

Happily Single: Keys to Thriving in a World Full of Couples


“You singles out there, go to the lobby and just find someone to marry.”

Gulp! Someone whom I know and respect actually said that at a meeting I attended a few years ago. I kid you not.

It wasn’t a meeting about marriage or singleness; I wouldn’t attend either of those. It wasn’t part of some treasure hunt or a game like The Amazing Race, either, where teams had to successfully complete challenges. Read More

Pros, Cons, and Solutions for Working Remotely


When I walked into my office—a streetside coffee shop called Brewed Awakenings—I thought something was on fire. Smoke billowed from a little toaster oven in the corner. But none of the staff looked concerned, and guests sipped their morning brew in peace.

Turns out, the owner was set on roasting his own beans, so he did what you do in a fullsizerenderdeveloping country: He improvised. He turned a little chicken rotisserie oven into a coffee roaster by adding a perforated drum where the chicken should be, and by bolting a floodlight to the cover to intensify the heat and thus cut the roasting time in half. Step aside, MacGyver! 

If that’s not enough, “Mac” sources his beans from a farmer just on the other side of our lagoon—fair trade at its best. I love it! Plus I love the taste of the coffee, which is why I decided to drive the 8 miles this morning to work from here rather than from my usual spot on the beach, which is but a short bike ride from my home.

Read More

Abandon Ship!

Today was our last day of diving off Bunaken. The weather was questionable when we left, but the skipper assured us it’s changing for the better, that the weather forecast for the day was only light rain. Connie—my friend visiting from the US—decided not to go diving today due to a headache, and Marion—my colleague—thought she’d just snorkel around this area today, once the weather cleared up. Not wanting to miss out on a final dive of Bunaken Marine Park, I joined a dive party of two guys from India and their friend from Jakarta.

The hour-long trip over to the island wasn’t too bad. We dived—possibly my best dive in the 14 years I’ve been scuba diving—and then I stayed on the surface, snorkeling, as not to cut into the 24-hour no-dive period prior to a flight.  The moment the other three divers surfaced, we were told we’re heading back right away since the weather was changing… Read More

A Change in Perspective

I felt, the other day, what it’s like to fly. I ran off the edge of a mountain and soared, feeling the cold mountain wind directly on my face. After about five minutes, I landed in a tea plantation. Crash-landed, actually. But it didn’t hurt. I just laughed and laughed. Read More

Serious Play Case Study

Lize Albertyn-du Toit: Farmer and Small Business Owner

Lize with Poppie and Sophia, two of the Pêpa ladies

When you walk into Lize’s farmhouse, you immediately feel at home. Perhaps it’s the welcoming sound of footsteps on the wooden floors. Maybe it’s the rays of sunlight breaking through the little shutters in the solid wooden doors. It could be the laughter of friends busy in the kitchen, a room filled with things that say, “Life’s been lived here.” Old-school kitchenware, not for the show, but for use.

Everything and everyone—including the farmer and his wife—says, “Make yourself at home. Stay a while.” I had planned to visit for a day. I stayed a fortnight. Read More

Seeing with the Heart

“Here is my secret. It is very simple:
It is only with the heart that one can see rightly;
what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
~ Antoine de Saint Exupéry, The Little Prince

Rarely do I compare. I’ve seen too much in life to covet what others have/do/are. Instead, when I do compare, it is with pure gratitude in my heart for the blessing of a nice home, knowing that some of my friends around the world live in mud huts with wooden shutters, entire families crammed into small spaces. Read More