The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day each year typically offers me the best opportunity for some quality quiet time for thinking about the past, the future, and the world in which we live. That particular week is one that typically sees many coworkers, family, friends, and neighbors taking vacation time, and a more relaxed disposition takes over as the rush to Christmas is complete, and the start of a fresh year seems to slowly inch its way toward us. For me, it’s a time of reflection, speculation, and introspection. I believe it to be one of the most effective periods during which all of this thinking can help congeal thoughts, spawn new ideas, and fresh strategic thinking becomes possible within the walls of a quiet office.

It’s not a stretch to look around us, regardless of where in the world our particular parcel of land may be, and see pain, confusion, uncertainty, and turmoil. It pervades the 24-hour news cycle, and is evident at all levels of society. Financial markets have demonstrated the ability in 2011 to oscillate in fairly wide ranges in very short time periods, making them feel less like prudent places for investment and more like Las Vegas. Political and governmental systems are under stress, and economies are fragile and precariously interdependent. There is no question that genuine angst is being felt by people around the world as they seek to sort out their current situations, and their responses to them.

On the surface, these things would send a pessimist running to the nearest underground bunker until the smoke cleared. Cautious people stop discretionary spending; tax-starved governments scale back services; and rational businesses push out investment awaiting indications that some movement toward reason is reestablished in the economic and political spheres. And although retrenchment is a defensive strategy when faced with uncertainty, it is rarely the pointy end of the spear aimed at solving big problems.

This is a time of enormous opportunity and change. Middle classes are rising in the developing world. Populations are growing older and younger, depending where in the world you might be. Political regimes are being scrutinized and social pressures are driving radical change. All enterprises, both public and private, are seeking greater efficiencies. Sustainability is no longer just a buzz word; it’s the basis for future generations. Public safety and security systems are becoming a staple, technology is evermore enabling, and the list goes on. Many of these things will have profound effects on consumption, construction, global economics, political power, healthcare, and transportation (just to name a few). Whatever new uncertainty that may emerge in the coming year, problems will need to be solved and that is where opportunity exists.

2012 began on Sunday with all the hopes that a new year always brings with it. Resolutions abound as we shed the weight of the old and anticipate the new. Our focus will be on making our company better and stronger than ever in 2012 as we continue to tackle the challenges that spawn opportunity. Embracing change is akin to drawing breath in today’s world. Those who don’t accept it will not survive. I’m happy to say that we have healthy lungs capable of deep breaths.

Have a very Happy New Year and a prosperous 2012.