How an Old Man’s Mantra Will Change Your Life

My father, Marvin Korff, as featured in the book The Last Veterans of World War II by Richard Bell. Photo credit Jay Korff.

Doling out advice is tricky. As a father, it’s part of the job description whether your words are welcome or not. I didn’t listen to a good deal of what my dad said to me about changing motor oil in a timely fashion or how to best grout a shower . But thankfully, I listened to just enough of the big stuff.

Marvin Korff, still with us at 95, embodies the mindset of those who lived through The Depression and served in and survived World War 2. It’s a philosophy that did him and his remarkable generation quite well and one we can all learn from.

Korff was an Electronics Technician aboard the USS Savannah in WW2. Photo credit the Korff family.

You work hard. It’s your moral obligation. It makes you a better, stronger person. Take a mindful, frugal approach to life. Always be kind to others because it’s right and karma is real. Never want beyond your means. That’s wasteful. Plan and save. You will thank yourself later.

Distilled down, his mantra was delayed gratification.

Commit to a cause, be it a job, a relationship or a hobby. It builds patience, discipline and self-control. Bosses, partners and friends will know you are earnest and reliable. Never, ever give up. Unless you clearly lost. Then pick your self up, go home and learn from your mistakes.

Jay Korff with his father, Marvin. Photo credit Inez Korff.

Delayed gratification means working outside your comfort zone. This alone will do you wonders. Too many young folks struggle to find their way, land a first job or keep a second one. In part, because they’ll tell you, “I need a job that’s fun. I need to live in a place that suits me or else I won’t be happy.” Well, as Colonel Potter from MASH used to say, “That’s a load of horse hockey.” You make your own luck and your own joy through sweat.

Marvin Korff at Ponzio’s Diner in South Jersey for a recent birthday. Photo credit Jay Korff.

My dad always said he was never particularly smart. But his work ethic was unmatched. He worked for RCA his entire professional career on secret projects for our national security as a radar systems engineer. He did his country and his family proud.

So, put your head down and do the work. It won’t kill you. Really. You’ll have plenty of time for fun, later. The neat part about fun is that when earned it’s that much sweeter.

Marvin and Jay Korff toasting. Photo credit Jay Korff.

So, a toast to fathers who dole out advice we should hear and heed. Oh, and that reminds me. My car needs an oil change and the shower a good cleaning.

Jay Korff is a 50-time Regional Emmy Award-winning News Reporter who works for WJLA-ABC7 News in Washington DC. He lives with his family in Northern Virginia.

Jay Korff is a TV reporter, documentary filmmaker and still photographer who works in the Washington DC region and can be found @Jay7News