If you’re wondering what will be a sure winner in advancing your career or business or anything else where expansion or improvement is your objective, here’s the answer: input. There’s just nothing better. You’ve no doubt heard the statement when it comes to computers: garbage in, garbage out. Some go on to say: nothing in, nothing out. This second axiom may be true when it comes to a cup or pail, but it’s not true when it comes to a garden, your mind, your career, or any other area where growth is desired. If you put nothing into any of these, you get worse than nothing out!

Plant nothing in your garden, for example, and in no time—even though you didn’t plant them—you’ll have lots of weeds. It’s the same with your mind. A mind that is not fed with positive input produces nothing but stinkin’ thinkin’ (as recovery programs like to call it). What does that look like? Stinkin’ thinkin’ says: it  can’t be done, it’ll never work, what’s the use, there’s no point, etc. Thoughts like these, like weeds in a garden, simply take over and choke out all wholesome, uplifting, and positive can-do thoughts that might try to sprout. It’s the same with your career. If you don’t put anything in, you won’t just stagnate; you’ll actually trend backwards!

So what kind of winning input will produce the desired success in your workplace, career, or business? Action, that’s what. Here are four actions you can put in (and you may think of others besides) that I’ve found to be very important to career and business growth:

  1. Put your growth and advancement ideas and desires on paper. This fosters a clear understanding in your mind as to what you are after and what it will look like when you have achieved it.
  2. Think about what you have to do to see your dream and hope realized, and write that down as well. Your mind now has clarity as to what efforts have to be expended and what changes have to be made in your habits in order to produce a win.
  3. Share these hopes, dreams, vision, and plans with someone you trust and who knows you. Welcome their advice, weigh it carefully, and make modifications as needed.
  4. Place all this before God and ask for his blessing, guidance, and empowerment.

Why don’t I suggest Step 4 as Step 1? Because you have to give God something to bless first. The preceding three steps bring clarity, so that you know what you’re asking God’s blessing and empowerment for and have already done something that he can bless.

The writing of your hopes and dreams can be compared to a ship’s captain plotting a course to a destination. Once that course has been laid out, it must be adhered to. As you set out on your journey, like a ship’s captain, you need to regularly consult the course you charted at the outset so that you won’t lose sight of your carefully-planned, prayed-over, and written objective and go in the wrong direction.

Now, here’s a daily input action that’s essential to success: be a team player, whether you’re a team leader or other team member. With teamwork, the small contribution you make yields greater output when it meets the contribution of others—and guess who gets the benefit of that greater output? Everyone on the team! Career advancement does not happen by going it alone; you need to pour into the collective good to reap individual benefit. Input into the corporate cause is what will ultimately produce benefit to self as well as others.

John Maxwell, a well-known author on positive input, says, “The more you engage in good thinking, the more good thoughts you will continue to think.” Good thinking is the input that leads to right action; and right action is the input that will deliver the victory you are pursuing. Positive input is the winning formula that delivers positive results.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you
and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”   —Jeremiah 29:11