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The Red Trolly (a tip for managing stressful situations)

By Marcus Santer

manage stress

I had a very interesting conversation with a guy yesterday.

He’d spent the last 3 years working in a busy hospital as a theatre orderly.

And he told he’d no experience when he started and there wasn’t much training either. He was simply thrown in at the deep end and in his words it was a ‘baptism of fire’.

Reflecting on this, he felt it was deliberate because the hospital wanted to weed out those who couldn’t ‘hack it’ from those who could as quickly as possible.

I said it sounded very stressful.

And he agreed.

Shortly after starting, he’d come within a gnat’s whisker of total breakdown but a more experienced member of the team had saved him and given him a lesson that had stood him in good stead for stressful situations for the rest of his life.

As you can imagine… I was all ears.

I’m always keen to discover practical tips for managing stress and share them with you.

So I asked him what his colleague had said to him that had helped himgo from melt down to thriving in this stressful environment.

Here’s the story he shared:

He’d been told to find the ‘Red Trolly’ – the name used for the crash cart a set of trays on wheels used for the dispensing of emergency medication/equipment with the aim of saving a persons life.

He couldn’t immediately find it and knowing that someone’s life was hanging in the balance, he started to freak out.

As the seconds turned into minutes he told me he felt like he was on the verge of blacking out from the pressure of trying (and failing) to find the Red Trolly.

Then one of the team grabbed him and asked him what he was doing.

He replied: ‘I can’t find the Red Trolly’

And his team member told him something he’d never forget:

“Stop looking at the big picture, you’re not looking to save a person’s life… you’re just looking for the Red Trolly, that’s all… Now find the trolly.”

This simple statement allowed him to drop out of hyperspace in double quick time and focus on his part in the emergency: finding the Red Trolly.

And with his focus in the right place he did.

So what’s the moral of this story?


The next time a tsunami of stress enters your life, remind yourself to take your focus off ‘The Big Picture’ and put it on what your part in it is… Right now.

Remember, when you’re looking for the Red Trolly, you’re not looking to save someone’s life, nope.

You’re part, right now is simply to find the Red Trolly.

If you found this story useful and you’d like to discover 4 practical and proven ways to help you manage in these stressful times, check out Habit #6 in my Healthy Aging Pyramid book and you’ll find:

You’ll get all of this, plus information on the other 6 habits of the Healthy Aging Pyramid (HAP) along with my proprietary HAP checklist – 25 questions to help you stay young and age well.

But it’s only available here.

Bye for now