November – as busy as it can be – often is seen as a time for reflection. We prepare for the holidays and gather with friends and family to give thanks for our blessings, and once the Thanksgiving dishes are cleared and we’ve awakened from our turkey-induced naps, the year-end frenzy begins. So in the few precious days we have before holiday fever hits, let’s take a look at where we are, and where we think we’re going.

By the time you read this, we’ll know who will occupy the White House for the next four years, and just as importantly, who will represent our needs at the local, state and national levels. Some of us are pleased; some are disappointed. For now, we agree that we can all breathe a sigh of relief that the relentless political ads are off the air and we can reach for the phone without fear of answering yet another robocall.

What the elections mean to our industry is best left to those who study this: I’m looking to the ANLA and PLANET, in particular, for their keen analyses.

So … down to business. Being among the last industries to begin to emerge from The Great Recession, we’re still in recovery mode. Which means we’re recovering much as a knee surgery patient recovers. Think you’re ready to rock once the surgeon gives the thumbs up and you’ve been wheeled out of the recovery room? Hardly. There’s a whole lot of work yet to be done and, while you may want to be a Viking about it and muscle through on your own, you’re better off with the help of professionals to guide you. And encourage you. And challenge you. It’s a lot of hard work. It’s a long, sometimes rocky road.

When you “emerge,” if you will, things are different. Not necessarily worse, not exactly better, but different. And you adapt.

We’ve done a lot of adapting in the past few years, and looking ahead to 2013, we can count on more of the same – business as unusual. A few years ago, who’d have thought that edible plants (fruits, berries, vegetables) would take their place right alongside ornamentals in the garden? Not just as accents, and not relegated to a separate vegetable bed, but as ornamental garden staples? Driven both by economic and environmental “needs,” this trend turned out to be a nice asset for those who adapted.

A few businesses have folded; a few have restructured. A few have even been able to weather the storm and prepare for growth. Among the most significant changes ahead, however, is the historic blending of the American Nursery & Landscape Association and OFA-The Association of Horticulture Professionals. Talk about adapting to change, while at the same time leading it. What has been business as usual for decades will become business as unusual as the two powerhouse associations prepare to reorganize – much as many companies have had to do.

Changing, streamlining and adapting, all while getting the necessary work done – much as many companies have had to do. What will emerge will be a strong, effective, influential organization ready to represent the industry in the new economy. (Yes, it’s tempting to use the term, “new normal,” but sheesh. Let’s give that one a rest.)

Each has been a significant force in leading the industry; there’s no disputing that. But in changing times, it’s either lead the change or become changed by it. And as each agile business professional knows, there will be growing pains along the way.

But which would you rather experience: business as unusual, or no business at all?