"The Spartans do not ask how many are the enemy but where are they."
--King Agis of Sparta, as quoted in Plutarch's Sayings of Spartans<
One of our dear friends and Santa Fe neighbors passed on this past week. Fellow Greek American, Nicholas Charles Nickeas, or "Nick Charles" as most people knew him, was widely-known and respected as an American sportscaster and journalist. A pioneer in the field, he was one of CNN's first on-air personalities. True to his Greek Spartan roots, Nick had been heroically battling bladder cancer since 2009 and never gave up on life. He would have celebrated his 65th birthday on June 30th. To be sure, he will be missed but never forgotten!
In addition to honoring and celebrating Nick's extraordinary life and legacy, it is the intent of this post to encourage everyone to do some soul searching or self-reflection. Regardless of religious or faith-based orientation, we urge readers to consider seriously if they are now living and working in such a way that the last comments about them would really be what they wanted to have said.
Against this backdrop, there is no question our friend Nick would be very proud for what has been and continues to be said about him. While his life may have been cut short, it is clear to us that his kind and loving "spirit" lives on in the individual and collective minds, hearts, and souls of many others. Knowing Nick like we do, we can testify that he was always mindful of life's many and unique blessings. In other words, he was not someone who lived his life on auto-pilot or cruise control, ignoring the many things, both small and large, that really should matter, until it was too late. No, sir. Nick lived all of life with attitude, with gratitude and with an awareness that there was a seed of meaning in every moment.
Indeed, Nick lived a life with meaning right to his very last breath. In the words of the world-renown psychiatrist, Viktor Frankl, "You do not have to suffer to learn. But if you don't learn from suffering, over which you have no control, then your life becomes truly meaningless ... The way in which a man accepts his fate -- those things beyond his control -- can add a deeper meaning to his life. He controls how he responds." In this regard, Nick Charles not only accepted his fate but also learned from his suffering in ways that added deeper meaning both to his own life and to those around him.
The way that Nick lived and worked served -- and continues to do so -- as an inspirational and aspirational "role model" for his family members, friends, colleagues, neighbors and many others, who are on a similar quest for the deeper meaning in their lives. Moreover, when one considers those who made up his vast "audience" over the years, Nick touched the lives of more people than we could ever be able to count, people whom we are sure were influenced in meaningful ways by his very presence.
Role model: In general use, any person who serves as an example, whose behavior is emulated by others.
Nick, we can also say without hesitation, was a true gentleman in every respect. Most importantly, he was a gentle man who believed in the true value of friendship and was authentically committed to exhibiting friendship in all of his associations and interpersonal relationships, both in his personal life and at work. With consistency and integrity, he demonstrated the following attributes of friendship that, once again, can only be viewed as positive and meaningful role modeling behaviors: the tendency to desire what is best for the other person, sympathy and empathy towards others, honesty and truthfulness, unwavering loyalty, a spirit of cooperation and willingness to support those in need, respect for other people and their opinions and a desire to foster mutual understanding. Indeed, who would not want to have such qualities? And who would not want to be recognized by others as a person who possesses and manifests them in everyday life?
"Fasten onto the positives of life."
Yes, our friend Nick was a role model on many different levels. We will surely miss him. At the same time, he has left behind some visible footprints -- perhaps we can even call them "soulprints" -- that not only comprise an integral part of his life legacy but also provide more evidence of his existence, his humanness, as an inspirational role model in the lives of others. Nick loved and will always be loved. Nick lived and will always live. Nick's commitment to the value of friendship will forever bring warmth to the meaning of life. To our eternal friend, Nick the Greek: OPA!
So, what kind of role model are you today? And what kind of positive and meaningful soulprints are you preparing to leave behind? What are you doing today to ensure that these soulprints remain visible well after you have gone?
Dr. Alex Pattakos and his partner, Dr. Elaine Dundon, are the co-founders of The OPA! Way® lifestyle of "Living Your Inner Greece!" which means living all of life to the fullest with enthusiasm and meaning. You can find out more about Dr. Pattakos, author of the international best-selling book "Prisoners of Our Thoughts," and Dr. Dundon, author of the international best-selling book, "The Seeds of Innovation," in their full bio.