How Giorgio Armani Got His Career Into Gear

UPDATED: October 4, 2015
PUBLISHED: March 25, 2015

Car analogies are great for describing how motivation works, but my favorite is one you probably haven’t heard before: Engage your gears. It means putting your life into drive and positioning yourself in the middle of the action, where ideas are happening.

Take fashion designer Giorgio Armani. After spending time in the armed forces, Armani worked as a department-store window dresser—and he got inspired; he wanted to learn more about fashion designing and marketing. He shifted his gears to get where he wanted to go, and ultimately become one of the influencers of the industry.

He began designing menswear for Nino Cerruti while also freelancing for as many as 10 manufacturers at a time. He worked with multiple fashion houses after opening his own office, developing his personal style and working on his label along his way to becoming an iconic designer with an empire of his own.

He worked on all cylinders to make absolutely sure that he would arrive at his final destination—his designer career. You can do the same with these four principles:

1. Strengthen your core. Before firing up your gears, you need to make sure that everything is in order. You can’t put your foot in the door unless you first have what it takes to impress them. So prepare yourself first—materially and mentally. Then head out. The last thing you need is physical or emotional clutter blocking your route.

2. Tap into your motivation. Aside from having the required skills, you need to connect with the motivation inside you and use it to push yourself. Let your vision guide you and keep your spirits up even when the world is against you.

3. Depend only on yourself for validation. When driving to your goals, the last thing you need is to depend on others for a confidence boost. Even those who do support you won’t fully understand your dream and what drives you to achieve it. So become your own motivator and don’t depend on external recognition as you move forward.

4. Get in the middle of the action. Like Armani, you need to be to where the action is—that’s where you’ll really feel inspired and get the best “insider” opportunities. Once you’re there and dive into a task or a project, you’ll get a thrill; you’ll feel a passion, a dedication you couldn’t grasp before, on the outside looking in. And you’ll learn a lot from the people around you—the immersion spurring ideas of your own, ideas that will drive you closer to your ultimate destination.

Check out one of our blogger’s top 10 pieces of career advice and carry that wisdom with you, too.

Simon T. Bailey is an international speaker, writer and personal transformation strategist. He is the author of Shift Your Brilliance: Harness the Power of You, Inc., and Be the SPARK: Five Platinum Service Principles for Creating Customers for Life. When he’s not working, he enjoys rooting for the Buffalo Bills (his hometown team).