For this first Speak Previews of 2014, ECG Founder and Chairman Peter Giuliano reflects on the opportunities that wash in with the wave of each new year.

The New Year has always been a special time for me. But it was perhaps in my late 20's that what made it special began to solidify. I began to focus on the holiday as a time of transition and how different people handle that transition, something I have paid attention to with increasing interest as I've gotten older. There are those who look at this period of transition with relief: "Thank heaven last year is over!" There are the skeptics: "I hope this year is better than last." And there are those who conjecture: "I wonder what the New Year will bring?" The truth is, none of us can predict the future, but that doesn't mean we can't control some aspects of it.

The Roman God Janus was the God of doors and gates, powerful structures because they allow us to move in as well as out. He was the God of beginnings and endings. He was the God of transitions, those movements from one state to the next. Ancient depictions show Janus with two faces, one facing forward, the other back. And so we have the month of January, the beginning of which marks a beginning for many cultures.

As we celebrate the New Year transition, we can take a fatalistic, what will be will be approach. Or we can take a positive, proactive perspective, one that allows us to influence and perhaps shape what the New Year brings. The first makes us victims of fate; the second gives us some mastery over the coming year.

I tend to become reflective at this time of year and work hard to make my contemplations fruitful. Although some years are more difficult than others, I've never swayed from my efforts to make the transition between one year and another a productive time of contemplation, a time to learn and grow.

My own approach has been to look back on the year that was, but not with regrets or recriminations. I work hard to avoid the "would have, could have, should have" attitude. That's debilitating and destructive. Instead, I look back on "the good, the bad, and the ugly," not to rue what was, but to ask myself, where the "bad and ugly" are concerned, what I would do differently, what I would change if such a revision were possible. I try to articulate lessons that I may be able to apply in the future. No recriminations, just an exercise from which to grow.

I do the same thing with the "good" from the past year. What made a particular thing good? What did I do to contribute to that good, and how can I replicate or even improve on it as I go forward? With each new year, I grow.

On behalf of the entire ECG team, I wish you and yours, a joyous New Year, a year filled with good health and happiness, but I also urge you to think about Janus. Take time to look back on the year that was with a sharp focus on learning from it. Look ahead at the year that has just been born and apply that learning to nurture continued growth and development, personally and professionally. And then, stretch a bit, look out over the horizon, imagine what can be, for you and yours. May it all be fruitful.

Janus Mode