Yolandie Hamilton On How We Need To Redefine Success

Success lies in realizing your values. For a long time, I worked toward being the top dog and the best of the best to prove to others I could and because I thought that was how we show the world our success, by being in charge. I found only misery and despair trying to be […]

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Success lies in realizing your values. For a long time, I worked toward being the top dog and the best of the best to prove to others I could and because I thought that was how we show the world our success, by being in charge. I found only misery and despair trying to be something I wasn’t. If you’re chasing a career as a doctor but you want to go into performing arts nothing about being a doctor will feel like you’re working for a purpose.


Have you ever noticed how often we equate success with more? Whether that’s more products, more profits, more activities or more accomplishments, we buy into the belief that we have to do more to have more to be more. And that will sum up to success. And then along comes The Great Resignation. Where employees are signaling that the “more” that’s being offered — even more pay, more perks, and more PTO — isn’t summing up to success for them. We visited with leaders who are redefining what success means now. Their answers might surprise you.

As a part of this series I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Yolandie Hamilton.

Yolandie is a personal style mentor and confidence coach that guides women to make intentional style decisions by combining psychological principles and tools with styling theory and techniques. Her Mind Your Style Process leads them to feel liberated, confident, and in control of their style, body and life.


Thank you for making time to visit with us about the topic of our time. Our readers would like to get to know you a bit better. Can you please tell us about one or two life experiences that most shaped who you are today?

My early years were characterized by a consistent sense of being the odd one out. I am a product of an interracial marriage, which was odd enough in my small Michigan town, but my father is also from Jamaica, which added a bit of spice to the mix if you will. I found that a way to relate to my peers was through style and fashion but the nuances of getting dressed in an “acceptable” manner for my classmates eluded me until I was in my college years. At this point, I realized their opinion didn’t matter. These two parts of my history inspired a love of learning about not only myself and how my brain works but also how others interact and the various ways what we wear impacts those relations.

We all have myths and misconceptions about success. What are some myths or misconceptions that you used to believe?

I used to believe that success meant you needed to spend long hours in an office working from near sun up until long after sundown without seeing your family or friends in pursuit of a job well done. This led me to believe that I had to work long hours and give up my personal life in pursuit of promotions and recognition within the workplace. Success meant you had to work hard to afford the expensive car, the nice house, that you should be married, or in a committed relationship on the way to marriage with a family, and taking expensive vacations. Which, who knows when you get to do that because you’re busy working all the time and we can’t use vacation time because that makes us look like slacker employees. It meant that we didn’t take care of ourselves and it meant that the time we did make for our families could easily be interrupted by a call from someone at the office wanting to know details of something you’ve worked on and if you didn’t answer the call you weren’t being a part of the team. In short, it meant dedicating our lives not to ourselves but to a corporation.

How has your definition of success changed?

My definition of success is now based on intangible factors. It has absolutely nothing to do with money, cars, vacations, nothing that you can physically touch or see. It’s based on the impact that I’m making on lives every day through the work that I’m doing. If I’m changing someone’s life and making them feel empowered and in control which leads to more success at what they’re looking to accomplish, then I am also successful. It also includes being the example that meaningful success is possible for others to achieve. As far as I’m concerned now, success is a team sport and if we all lose, I lose, but if we all win, I win too.

The pandemic, in many ways, was a time of collective self-reflection. What changes do you believe we need to make as a society to access success post-pandemic?

There are many changes that could be useful for our society as a whole to access greater success, but I think the number-one success factor we need to be looking at is our sense of community. The more that we can come together and relate to each other and understand that we are not alone in problems we face or the struggles that we have, the more we can empathize and see that there is no us or them; it’s all we. By coming together we can find others who’ve been where we are before and get a guide to lead the way. By learning from their mistakes, we don’t have to learn the hard way. We also gain a sense of support to face our challenges. I think that also once we can empathize with our “enemy” we can see that there aren’t really as many differences as we might think.

What do you see as the unexpected positives in the pandemic? We would love to hear a few of your stories or examples.

I personally saw people gaining deeper connections and a deeper understanding of what’s important to them. Without being able to sit around face-to-face with groups of friends and family, we were forced to communicate in ways that lead to deeper conversations. The surface-level “How’s the weather, how’s work, what’s going on with the kids,” type of conversations disappeared because everyone was really on edge and concerned that they could be in a life-or-death situation. Although most people were easily able to recover there are still factors that doctors and scientists haven’t been able to pinpoint that made some people susceptible to really severe illness — even though they were perfectly healthy and young. The situation forced us to ask ourselves and each other really deep questions and to talk about what the answers meant to us. Lockdown encouraged us to connect a lot deeper with our immediate families and in spending a lot of time together which pushed us to examine relationships that we had. Ultimately, our relationships will be better for this knowing what we need in each type of relationship. Many realized that it was time to take better care of ourselves. I personally found that I was not giving myself enough time to do what I needed to do for my health both physically and mentally. I have now prioritized sleep and physical movement in a way that’s balanced and healthy.

We’re all looking for answers about how to be successful now. Could you please share “5 Ways To Redefine Success Now?” (Please share a story or example for each.)

1- Determine what’s important to you.

Success lies in realizing your values. For a long time, I worked toward being the top dog and the best of the best to prove to others I could and because I thought that was how we show the world our success, by being in charge. I found only misery and despair trying to be something I wasn’t. If you’re chasing a career as a doctor but you want to go into performing arts nothing about being a doctor will feel like you’re working for a purpose.

2-Shift your mindset to a supportive place.

When you approach everything from a sense of lack or difficulty, it will always be out of reach. Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right. Looking back now on many occasions where I told myself how hard something would be and that I couldn’t do it, I didn’t. I believed that it all had to be hard and I had to struggle, put in my time. If I had only told myself that I could, life would have looked rather different. Knowing how to circumvent the default negative thought patterns will help you accomplish what is important to you.

3-Know your timeline.

It can be easy to succumb to despair when you compare yourself to those who came before you. Your beginning can’t look like another person’s end. Three years ago I began performing in community theatre and thought that despite having never acted, I should be seen as just as good as people who had been doing it for years. I was really sad about not getting main character roles but I didn’t deserve them. I was comparing my acting journey’s beginning to the experienced actors’ end. Once I reexamined my status, I was able to adjust my personal expectations and enjoy the process of performing. Staying mindful of where you are will get you where you want to be.

4-Make it a priority for yourself.

When you’re chasing a goal for reasons that are not your own you’ll always feel empty and thus unsuccessful. (See number one). When you know your reasons it becomes your priority. When the pandemic hit and I saw that I had insight and skills in the personal style and confidence coaching arena, I realized that my purpose wasn’t being fulfilled if I returned to life as it was before. I knew that in order to take better care of myself and my family I needed to do things in a different way. Setting out to accomplish building a business became the priority with support of reasons 1–3 but I did it for me, not outside pressure.

5-Create a measuring method that works for you.

There are methods out there that experts will tout as “the best way” to measure success but if It doesn’t align with the way you think and feel about the goals you’re pursuing then it will not work. I tried every different method that I could find for measuring my success. I used numbers of followers. I used dollars in my bank account. I used the number of things I had in my home, and none of them made me feel successful. It was when I decided on what was important to me (see number one) that I was finally able to feel a measure of success and accomplishment. If you’re trying to find how long something is in feet but use the metric system you’ll always be confused. Create your own measuring stick.

How would our lives improve if we changed our definition of success?

In the search for a better definition of success, what we really want is happiness. By redefining what we call success on our own terms, it allows us to embrace what we’re really passionate about, the things that really light our fire, and essentially make us glow. It’s when we glow brightest that we can lead the way for others to light their own fires and shine as well.

What’s the biggest obstacle that stands in the way of our redefined success? And what advice would you offer about overcoming those obstacles?

Comparing and caring about others’ opinions is often our biggest hurdle to success. In the entrepreneurial space, we rely on social media a lot to share what we’re doing and promote our businesses. It’s easy to fall into a trap of looking at people who are doing things that are similar to what you’re doing and feeling that you will never be enough or we can never measure up to what they are doing. My advice to someone trying to overcome this is to remember why you’re doing what you’re doing and what’s important to you about what you’re doing. If I personally were to measure my success based on what I see on social media I would consider myself a complete failure. However, I know that what is important to me is making connections and lifting up other women to a place where they can accomplish greater things in their own lives. In my book, that makes me extremely successful. Remember, no one can do what you do — as you do it — with your mix of knowledge and experience. There will never be another you, so all comparisons are unjust.

Where do you go to look for inspiration and information about how to redefine success?

I look inward to myself for information on how to redefine success now. Think of a time that you made a really good meal and took that first amazing bite. All the flavors were beautifully balanced and it was a sensory experience, not just a meal. You knew it was successful and didn’t need your family to taste it to confirm, even though you were enthusiastic and probably shared it with them. This is how I treat defining success, when I’ve hit the nail on the head just right, I know it. If I haven’t I can recalibrate accordingly but no one else can define it for me.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He, she or they might just see this if we tag them.

Oprah. My work is based on not just putting together pretty outfits and rearranging your closet but finding our why behind those outfits. We explore the everyday traumas we face and work to provide resources for women to heal and overcome them. Oprah has provided proof that we can not only survive but thrive beyond our wildest dreams. I aim to change the way women dress for generations to come and alter the conversation to a place of intention and meaning in our appearance over mindless consumerism or competition. She is such an inspiration for the work I do and reaches so many women I know we could create a force to be reckoned with!

How can our readers further follow your work online?

I spend most of my time in my business form on Instagram and share all the happenings and insights there. Feel free to look me up send a DM my way! @hamiltonstyling

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success and good health.

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