Forrest Gump Was Right…Life IS a Box of Chocolates

January 8th, 2014 | Kirk Hazlett | 21 Comments

Box of ChocolatesIt has become abundantly clear to me over the past few years that life – through which we all must pass – is an ever-evolving puzzle and a genuine delight.

Image: Adam Collins via Flickr, CC 2.0

Good things come our way, sometimes unexpectedly; and not-so-good (I’m a PR guy; I can’t say “bad”!) things fall on us.

This has become particularly interesting to me in my now decade-long role of “head honcho” of the Curry College Communication Department’s undergraduate Public Relations Concentration. As I talk to more and more students who either are preparing to enter the workplace or have just taken their first tentative steps “out there,” I realize more and more the wonders that life holds for each and every one of us.

I’ve also seen this when I meet as a College of Fellows mentor with young professionals at PRSA’s International Conferences, something I’ve been doing for the past few years as part of my personal and professional commitment to the standards and ideals represented by the College.

No…I’m not going all evangelical on you, so stop hyperventilating!

It’s just that, each time I sit and chat with one of my current/former students or a young professional about his or her plans for the future, I see once again myself a gazillion years ago…unsure about where to go or what to do next.

And each decision I made… each “chocolate” I chose… resulted in different, sometimes delightful, sometimes bleaah, sensations.

But that’s what life should be about…little surprises that tempt, delight, challenge, and reward us for our endeavors.

Not all of us, though, are willing risk-takers. For every student who has been willing to step onto the tightrope blindfolded, there have been a herd of others who want every possible nook and cranny bathed in a bright light of understanding before making a move.

Some of them have done, as I would define it, “okay.”

The interesting thing for me is that these are the folks from whom I subsequently hear less and less often… they basically settle into the moss of comfortable existence and move on with their lives. Good for them! They’re satisfied. They’re employed.

The others, from whom I hear regularly, are digging into their chosen career field with eagerness and enthusiasm. And they’re asking the age-old question, “What’s next?”

The first “chocolate” that they tried was good. But life is an assortment of flavors and textures.

What, indeed, is “next”?

I assure them that the only way to find that answer is to try another. I also caution that you don’t want to “try” too many… you’ll get a stomach-ache!

To quote, as I so often do, Forrest Gump,

“Life [is] like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”

So give it a try! Try new things. Test new pathways. Explore new opportunities. You never know what you’re gonna get!

Kirk Hazlett

Kirk Hazlett

Professor at Curry College
Kirk Hazlett, APR, Fellow PRSA, holds the position of Associate Professor, Communication/Public Relations, at Curry College; he is also Lecturer in Communications, at Regis College. Kirk has 35+ years’ federal government and nonprofit organization PR experience, followed by nearly 10 years’ undergraduate- and graduate-level college teaching experience. Some of the organizations he has counseled include the Blood Bank of Hawaii, Medical Area Service Corporation and Boston Harborfest. He blogs at A Professor’s Thoughts.
Kirk Hazlett
Kirk Hazlett
Kirk Hazlett

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Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

Very Taoist post @KirkHazlett 

One thing I should add is that they can find jobs that allow them to try or experience different things. I have a finance degree. It led me to sales and those sales jobs had clients in every industry except mining and farming. I have been inside oil refineries and power plants. On movies sets and even once Arnold Schwartzenegger's trailer for the set of Junior. To rocket factories to computer chip plants. I worked on NASA pprograms and hydrogen car programs. All with a finance degree. Go figure.

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@KirkHazlett such a beautifully written post Kirk! Loved it. Surely has motivated me to try something new and different in life! :)  


"Life is a box of chocolates... you never know what you're going to get" never made sense to me.  I mean, when I purchased a box of Maltesers I knew EXACTLY what I was going to get :/


@Howie Goldfarb My story, Howie, told probably way too often is...English and Business Management degrees. Fell into PR by accident...high tech, healthcare, nonprofit, federal government, and  higher ed. You're right...never know 'til you try!!


@Ancita Thanks so much, Ancita! Always good to know my ramblings can be helpful! :-)


@Shonali @KirkHazlett @Howie Goldfarb  The Reader's Digest version...unabridged version available at PRSAICON in DC! :-)

Entered Air Force w/English degree thinking would be teacher. Wound up in Vietnam (Saigon) teaching English. Came back to States to a/v library. Was asked to help promote our services. Wrote a number of "letters" (as I knew them...known to us in PR as "news releases") to base paper. Also started talking up services at NCO Club and anywhere there were people gathered. Business grew to the point where we had to extend hours and add a new position.

Went back to Saigon. Taught for about three months and was asked to manage instructor dayroom/lounge/bar. Started talking with customers about what they would like to see offered other than snacks and drinks. Started doing cook-outs, bringing in live entertainment and first-run movies. Brokered special deal with regional exchange services for discounts on food and drink purchases. In 1970 dollars, was clearing $300 per week profit.

Came back to States, to another AF a/v library. Same as earlier. Wrote "letters" for base paper. Talked with tons of people about services we offered. Accepted invitations to assist with on- and off-base organizations' a/v needs for meetings and special events. Once again...added additional staffer to handle new business.

Was assigned to new AF base to Command Briefing Team...part of the Tactical Air Command Public Affairs Division as a/v tech. Ran briefings for host of units; promoted our services like mad.

Off to the Philippines and assigned to a/v squadron. Same as above..."letters"..."talking"..."helping." Was visited by Exec. Dir, Manila Red Cross for assistance in developing a/v training programs for dependent children.

When asked in all the above situations what I was doing, I said it was a "Southern thing"...being neighborly and helping people who needed help.

Started studying for second degree in Business Management. Had to take an elective. "Underwater Basketweaving 101" was filled; signed up for a course that sounded equally easy and mindless: "Introduction to Public Relations."

First chapter of Cutlip & Center's "Effective Public Relations," and I'm "OMG...THIS is what I've been doing all these years; I just didn't know what it was called!"

Came back to States to wrap up enlistment (total: 8 yrs). Got out and started looking for positions...nothing caught my eye.

The US Army Training and Doctrine Command had an opening for a Public Information Intern. I applied. Was accepted. Got hired.

The rest is, as they say, "history."

Had I not taken the "Intro to PR" course, this would not have happened. I would not have read something that described, TO A "T," what I had been doing all these years.

And I will be eternally grateful for the twist of fate that caused me to "fall into PR."


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