With all of the recent changes and challenges, we have all had to adjust, and re-adjust our expectations and goals. Every day we are working hard to get to where we would like to be, while constantly reevaluating what “success” looks like and how to achieve it.
Many of you know what happened to me this winter: while on vacation I came down with Guillain-Barré Syndrome, which was caused by a reaction to a flu shot I received in October. I became paralyzed from the neck down, was placed on life support for four and a half weeks, spent 78 days in Florida hospitals, and later received excellent outpatient care at Vanderbilt University Hospital in Tennessee. It is not possible to describe how difficult, painful, and scary it was to work to regain control of my muscles and re-learn how to breathe, move my arms, use my hands, and, ultimately, walk.
I survived when it looked like I might not. My doctors and physical therapists continuously re-evaluated goals for my recovery, and I am grateful to have walked in under five months when I was given a 50% chance of walking between one to two years. Illness is humbling, and I had to accept slow, painful progress. Previously, I did things quickly and efficiently. I took pride in earning whatever I had, and, to a significant extent, I accomplished things on my own. The past eight months have been an adjustment, forcing me to accept my reliance on others and compelling me to express gratitude.
I am grateful for a taxi driver named Ashton, who literally carried me from hospital to hospital during the first harrowing days. I am grateful for my sister and guardian angel Terri who stood at my bedside, advocating, praying, and protecting me. I am grateful for Ellen who spent twelve hours a day with me, fed me, cared for me, and worked tirelessly to make me as comfortable as possible. I am grateful for my daughter Kelsey, brother-in-law Steve, and friend Angela who visited me, raised my spirits, and knew that I needed them.
I share this story to illustrate my personal re-evaluation of success. Yes, success has been achieved with a near full physical recovery, yet it also been achieved through an acceptance of my reliance on others and my whole-hearted attempt to express my appreciation to loved ones, friends, healthcare workers, and real estate colleagues and clients.
Just last week I received another “Best of Zillow” award, which is given to the top 10% of Zillow Premier Agents for consistently high trustworthiness, responsiveness, and knowledge ratings. In past years, earning Best of Zillow seemed like a good measure of professional success. To earn it again now, after being back to work for ten weeks, feels different than it did before. This time, it is a success I attribute to the care, concern, and commitment of the many people who have helped me get back to doing what I love: helping my clients all day, every day.
These days I feel like the luckiest person in the world. To everyone in my life: thank you from the bottom of my heart. Many of you have told me that during this challenging time in our country and around the world, you’ve re-framed and re-evaluated parts of your lives. In doing so, I hope you, too, find new and gratifying ways to measure success for yourselves and your families.
Bob Miller is an Associate Broker with 10 years of real estate experience as well as 15 years of service as a former Lake Placid School Board member, and is currently a 3-time elected Town Councilman in Lake Placid.