The Holdsworth Group - August 2019


Volume 1 • AUGUST 2019

NAILING JELL-O TO A TREE ... & Other Unproductive Behaviors

W hen I was a little kid, I’d often head over to my aunt’s house to play with my cousins. When we’d get under her feet, which was pretty much all the time, she’d kick us out of the house, ordering us to “go nail Jell-O to a tree” to get rid of some of our seemingly endless supply of energy. As a kid, I tried to imagine nailing Jell-O to a tree: grab some nails, an old, well-used hammer, and a big bowl of lime Jell-O (everyone’s favorite!) and get to work. But no matter how quickly you worked, no matter how many nails you used, and no matter how much you wanted that Jell-O to stick to the darn tree, it just slid off. Now I realize that while my aunt was just making a funny joke about keeping all of us kids busy, she was also saying something important about how fiercely we focus on having unproductive behaviors. Have you ever found yourself muttering that you simply don’t have enough hours in the day, week, or month to get everything done? You’re not alone. Technology can be your friend, but it can also contribute to feelings of being overwhelmed and always on . Think about it. Have you ever heard yourself say any of the following?

My inbox looks like a ski slope!

Planning? You’ve got to be kidding. I spend all of my time putting out fires.

worse that the plague. But at least the plague could be seen and eventually treated. The LifeClutter epidemic is both self-inflicted and killing us with stress, over-working, over-eating, hypertension, and much more. If you’ve been spending too much time nailing metaphorical Jell-O to a tree, I have good news for you: You CAN break the cycle and get your life back on track. Even in EMS, where the calls don’t stop, you still can! You can shut the world off to take time to recharge, but only if you really want to. All it takes is a little bit of time to slow down and meet with me, and you will learn a simple, proven system that will help you to strategize, itemize, and prioritize your time, energy, and strengths, which will allow you to work smarter and see things with a whole new set of eyes. You only have 1,440 minutes in a day. Don’t squander them on someone else’s agenda items. It’s never too late to get your life back. Contact me at contact to get started!

The faster I go, the more behind I get!

I feel like my career is stuck in a rut.

I thought email was supposed to save me time.

Email, snail mail, iPhones, 24-hour client expectations, text messages, fax machines, endless meetings, committees, kids’ events, charity events, time with friends, time for yourself … wait, what was that last one? With the widespread use of technology, there seems to be a constant expectation that we all need to be available to one another on demand. My term for this problem is LifeClutter. It’s a situation that we’re all in and is, for the most part, self-inflicted. We’ve all allowed “stuff” to creep into our lives, often undetected, and overrun our schedules. It’s an epidemic “But no matter how quickly you worked, no matter how many nails you used, and no matter how much you wanted that Jell-O to stick to the darn tree, it just slid off.”




On a New Year’s Eve shift in 1986, my partner Jeff and I ended up doing 22 calls with a total of five fatalities in just 13 hours. It was, by anyone’s standard, a shift from hell. New Year’s Eve has always been what I call “rookie night,” when unpracticed drinkers head out on the town and try to get home again. The night always ends up being really quiet or totally insane, and in 1986, it was certainly the latter. While shifts like these occur far more frequently than we’d hope for, no one really talks about how they can wear on you over time or how to develop the resilience to get back on track after they occur. You might notice your memories of shifts from hell are like my New Year’s one, stemming from the sheer number of calls. Or you might notice they stem from a single call, one that emphatically worked its way under your skin before you could stop it. In EMS, we have to be equipped to see, hear, and feel things that people in most other vocations can’t even imagine. We run straight into the danger that everyone else is trying to avoid, but we’d be lying if we didn’t admit that some experiences haunt us more than others. As a result of my own involvement with the direct care for over 20,000 patients, I’ve come to believe those ugly calls take a chip out of you every time. Eventually,

The questions in this quiz will help you address several important aspects of your personal and professional life in order to help you determine exactly where your mindset is. Consider, for example, the following questions. • When friends or family tell you that you look stressed, do you usually blow them off? • Do you find that all of your social time revolves around work people and drinking? • Do you feel that asking for help is a sign of weakness? • Have you ever felt the need to talk but couldn’t find someone with the right fit? As a person in EMS, maintaining a healthy mindset should always be a priority. How can you expect to persevere through ugly calls and sustain the resilience to rush into dangerous situations if you aren’t taking care of yourself first? I’ll give you the answer: It’s impossible. In this line of work, the chips add up, and they add up quickly. Let someone who has been in your shoes help you reduce the burden by taking the Level of Chaos Self-Assessment Quiz and discussing which steps to take next. Contact me directly by heading to contact or calling (860) 200-0059.

those chips can add up, causing you to crack. Having empathy for victims and their families is expected — that’s where the initial chip happens — but you have to take steps to ensure you’re taking care of yourself and that you’re resilient enough to avoid mentally cracking. Wading into chaos is what we do;

it’s NOT how we have to live. The stress from those hellacious shifts doesn’t have to affect all other aspects of your life. Are you dealing with those ugly calls in a mentally and emotionally healthy way? If you’re unsure, I would encourage you to take my Level of Chaos Self-Assessment Quiz.



It’s the Moment You’ve Been Waiting For! HEALTHY RESPONDERS IS LIVE!

chasing that suspect last week? There’s a program for you. Are you a Firefighter who is struggling to find the time for light workouts and meal prepping to keep you in shape for the next call? There’s a program for you. Are you an EMT or Paramedic who can’t find a nutritionist who stays open late enough to work with your free hours? There’s a program for you! Taking your own health into consideration while on shift can be extremely difficult. But it doesn’t have to be that way anymore. All of the Healthy Responder’s programs start at just $19.99/month. Go to HealthyResponders. com to see how our experts can help you stay healthy on your time!

Drive through meal? Check! Fourth cup of coffee only four hours into the shift? Check! Got hammered with calls last night? Check! Lifted that 400-pound guy who needed help last night? Check!

Does this sound like your life? The crazy hours, fast food, lack of good sleep, long stints of sitting around, and cumulative stress, or even perhaps PTSD, associated with emergency service work has a huge impact on our ability to lead healthy lives, both physically and mentally. That’s why our goal at is to help you get healthy, stay healthy, and have a long, safe, and rewarding career. No matter where you are today, if you want to improve your health, wellness, lifestyle, or emotional balance, there’s a resource here to help you. The most important aspect of this program is the associated phone app VHPgo, which

allows each individual responder to connect with a nutritionist who can help them build delicious recipes and find sustainable snacks they can take with them on the job. VHPgo also offers each user access to ample exercise programs based on their personal goals. You can even sign up to take exercise classes with a fitness instructor live, or you can participate in the classes at your own pace. There are three separate programs to choose from based on the type of guidance you need. Are you a Police Officer who is worried about DVT blood clots from sitting in your cruiser all day or who had a difficult time

ROASTED CORN SALSA INGREDIENTS • 2 medium ears of corn, shucked • 1 jalapeño or Fresno chile, seeded and thinly sliced • 1/2 red onion, diced • 1 large tomato, cored, seeded, and finely chopped • 1/4 bunch cilantro leaves, sliced • Juice of 1 lime • Kosher salt, to taste

Where’s the Fun?


1. Heat a cast-iron skillet to high. Char corn, turning occasionally, for 10–14 minutes until kernels begin to blacken in spots. 2. Using a sharp knife, remove corn kernels from cobs and transfer to a large mixing bowl. 3. With a wooden spoon or potato masher, gently crush corn to release starch and juices. 4. Add jalapeño, onion, tomato, and cilantro. Mix to combine.

5. Top with lime juice and season with salt. 6. Serve alongside your favorite tortilla chips.

Inspired by Bon Appétit



269 Main Street Cromwell, CT 06416 HOLDSWORTH.COM



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Are You Stuck Nailing Jell-O to a Tree?

Developing Resilience After a Shift From Hell

Healthy Responders Is Live!

Roasted Corn Salsa

Book Review: ‘Making “Good of the Order” the BEST Part of Your Meetings’


Book Review

and, over a 12-meeting sequence, get things moving in a positive direction.

you a specially priced one. Drop me an email at, and I’ll arrange for you to get your copy quickly! All change starts with small steps. This is a great guide to get your journey started.

The book is a quick and easy read — less than 30 minutes — but don’t let its lack of bulk (only 50 pages) fool you. What’s been condensed inside can save your organization. There are 12 exercises, each designed to get people talking in a positive way about positive things. The handouts needed for each exercise are included, plus a bonus exercise for between-meeting momentum. I just ordered 50 copies, one for each of our Access Point members. If you’re not a member and you want a copy, I can get

“Little hinges swing big doors.” –Jim Rohn If you have been in EMS, or business for that matter, and had to attend meetings regularly, you know that the doom-and- gloom attitudes and all the complaining can drag you into a funk. This book, by Lisa Giruzzi and Robbie MacCue, is truly a breath of fresh air that can help you turn meetings around, get people leaving meetings on a high note,



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