“I was obsessing over what it would mean to walk just ten feet. If I could walk ten feet, it would be the start of walking twenty. And if I could walk twenty, I could walk a mile.”
Dave Liniger had it all: four successful children, a lifetime filled with adventure, and a company he’d founded, RE/MAX, that became one of the most prominent real estate brands in the world and made him a success beyond his wildest dreams. He had served in the Vietnam War, parachuted out of planes, raced cars and once even attempted to circumnavigate the world in a balloon. And then overnight his full and varied life almost came to an abrupt end.
In January 2012, Dave woke up in the middle of the night to discover that he was paralyzed from the neck down and in excruciating pain. He had a history of back problems, so he thought his back had gone out. In fact, something much worse was happening to his body. Doctors discovered he had a horrific staph infection along his spine. As he teetered on the edge of the final abyss, Dave slipped into a drug-induced coma.
MY NEXT STEP: AN EXTRAORDINARY JOURNEY OF HEALING AND HOPE is a remarkable memoir of one man coming face to face with the darkest moments of his life and how, through his own drive and the unwavering support of family and friends, he never succumbed to despair. The engrossing medical drama is told through Dave’s voice, as well as those of his children, wife, doctors and friends, who lend an intimate and sometimes humorous view of Dave’s illness. MY NEXT STEP will inspire those facing tragedy to find the courage to accept their situation and then do what’s necessary to return to a meaningful life.
At several points during the grueling six months he spent in the hospital, Dave came close to giving up. The 67-year-old adventurer endured three critical surgeries but still couldn’t walk, and his athletic physique had withered from the man his children compared to John Wayne. One medication caused him terrifying nighttime hallucinations and on one despondent night, Dave wished he had been able to unplug the machines that were keeping him alive. But he couldn’t give in to hopelessness. Instead he drew inspiration from his wife, Gail. Twenty-nine years earlier, she had been in a tragic airplane crash, causing partial paralysis on her left side. Dave recalled that during her recovery Gail had shown incredible grace and courage during her ordeal. So he vowed to keep fighting for his life.
MY NEXT STEP chronicles how Dave found reserves of strength to fight through his pain and realize a deeper courage than he thought he had. The fiercely competitive businessman made up his mind to be the best patient the hospital had ever seen, even though doctors weren’t sure he would ever walk again. For a renegade like Dave, the thought of spending the rest of his life depending on others was more than he could bear. His guiding light was the mantra, “Just 10 steps.” If he could take 10 steps, he could take 20. If he could take 20, he could walk a mile. He also saw again how much his loved ones meant to him. Given Dave’s tenuous grasp on life, his family could’ve imploded. Instead, they became closer. And following the “no man left behind” rule Dave established after Gail’s crash, they never left him alone in the hospital, acting as his advocate when he couldn’t speak.
Dave finally left the hospital and returned home on July 17, 2012. He continues to heal, but is back running the company he loves, and is getting stronger every day. His is a timeless story of challenge, family, friendship, resolve and attitude. In telling it, Dave provides hope and inspiration for anyone experiencing difficult moments in their lives. Ultimately, the underlying message of My Next Step is not “I did it,” but rather “You can do it too.”
“You have to live your life one step at a time. Perhaps you will take small steps instead of giant leaps, but as long as you keep moving forward, you will always be taking your next step.”
Co-Author Laura Morton
Laura Morton has co-authored more than 35 books and written 18 New York Times Bestsellers, including works with Justin Bieber, Al Roker, Susan Lucci, Melissa Etheridge, Jennifer Hudson and Tom Ferry – just to name a few. She lives in New York.
More about Dave Liniger
Dave Liniger is the visionary leader of the Denver-based global real estate franchise he co-founded with his wife, Gail, in 1973. He is well respected internationally for his vast knowledge of the real estate industry and influence on housing policy. At the height of the recession, Dave pushed for governmental housing reform policies that would help speed the housing recovery; many of his recommendations were adopted. He is widely credited with improving conditions for real estate agents by creating a unique business model combining the maximum commission concept with a host of support services. Dave is a major advocate of advanced training and education – and, as a result, RE/MAX agents are the most productive in the industry.
Dave spent much of 2012 recovering from a life-threatening infection that surfaced in late January. After multiple surgeries, weeks in intensive care, and months in the hospital, he returned to RE/MAX World Headquarters in July. Though he has limited mobility, he continues to make progress through physical therapy and the strength of his mental attitude.
Forty years ago, Dave revolutionized the real estate industry when he created the RE/MAX business model, which combines a maximum commission concept with world-class support services. The name “RE/MAX” was coined from the words “real estate” and “maximums.” The model continues to attract experienced, top-producing agents who lead the industry in individual sales and professional education. The RE/MAX Balloon is one of the most recognized corporate images in the world and has become a symbol of the leading real estate network.
In 2011, Dave was named the Inman News “People’s Choice” Most Influential Real Estate Leader. In 2010, he was included in Bloomberg BusinessWeek’s profiles of the 50 Most Powerful People in Real Estate. Dave has been featured in Entrepreneur, Forbes, Fortune, Inc., Success and other leading publications and media outlets across the globe. He received the Warren Bennis Award for Leadership Excellence from the Global Institute for Leadership Development and has been inducted into the International Franchise Hall of Fame, the Council of Real Estate Brokerage Managers (CRB) Hall of Leaders, the Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council (ABR) Hall of Fame, and has earned the Council of Residential Specialists (CRS) Special Achievement Award.
Dave has set a tone of philanthropy since the early days of RE/MAX. The culture of giving attracts professionals who care about making a difference in their communities. Since 1992, RE/MAX has been the official real estate sponsor of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. RE/MAX has been a sponsor of Susan G. Komen for the Cure since 2002. In that same year, Dave co-founded a Denver-area conservation center, The Wildlife Experience, dedicated to fostering appreciation and understanding of wildlife, its conservation, and the many forms of wildlife art. He and Gail also own the acclaimed Sanctuary Golf Course in Sedalia, Colo. Devoted primarily to charity golf tournaments, the private course has raised more than $60 million for hundreds of organizations since opening in 1997. In 2011, Dave and Gail accepted the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Founder’s Award on behalf of the RE/MAX network, which has raised more than $115 million for local children’s hospitals.