Andrea Gillespie tells us about coaching, using the EQ-i 2.0, and the hero’s journey

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We celebrate leaders and people who are living out/ championing EQ composites in their professional lives. They are leading by example. The July Change Leader is Andrea Gillespie from Simple Soul.


We all have places in our lives, or in our career, where we are either blocked, or feel we have reached a plateau. Working together to boost your self-perception, self-expression, and the quality of your relationships through enhancing your EI, we will identify those blocks and find ways for you to overcome them.

Andrea Gillespie


Which area of EQ composite are you a champion at?

I am a champion of the self-perception composite, specifically within the emotional self-awareness sub-scale.

It was a long and winding road I endured to learn this skill. My quest for self-worth, what I refer to as my Hero’s Journey, took more than 30 years to complete. And I’m still learning.

I was bullied starting at the age of 8 years old. I did not know how to heal the pain of feeling unworthy. So, I carried it around with me like a Himalayan Sherpa. At some point, the shame became part of my personal story. 

Over the course of the next 3+ decades, my path was defined by the pain of rejection, and by the shame of feeling less-than. This insecurity manifested in my home and work relationships as an endless apology for not measuring up. I felt responsible for everything. And I apologized for everything.

When I consciously undertook the slow, contemplative excavation work to uncover my buried wounds, it was then I extricated my true gifts. 

I discovered the paradox of life, demonstrated by the polarity of opposites; that our greatest wounds conceal our greatest strengths. It’s during this process of becoming that I stepped into my true potential and purpose.

Making peace with the whole of who I am unleashed the transformative power of non-judgemental, complete self-acceptance, and emotional self-awareness. 

How has the EQ-I 2.0 certification training impacted your professional life?

The EQ-i 2.0® certification training is the entire underpinning of my professional life. 

Since the mid-1990s, I’ve understood that our measure of emotional intelligence, EQ, is the gateway to unlocking the complexities of our own emotional operating system (eOS), which in turn is the access point to our connection with other humans. 

I think we are fundamentally here to see each other and to lift one another. We can only effectively accomplish this when we can see the truth of ourselves first, from a sturdy platform of self-worth. 

According to Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey monomyth, in order to complete the journey, the hero must retain the wisdom gained on the quest and integrate that wisdom into a human life to share with the rest of the world.

Everything I feel ordained by my quest to share with the world revolves around the EQ-i 2.0® certification training curriculum. 

I’ve built my coaching practice, Simple Soul, around the notion that what people can learn about themselves and others by measuring and developing their emotional intelligence skills with the EQ-i 2.0® model and self-assessment process, simplifies every area of life.

What’s your definition of a leader?

To me, a leader is someone with a clear vision of who they are, why they are here, and where they are going. They have a bias for action and for taking initiative. 

Leaders set an example through their behaviour. They walk the talk. They choose courage over comfort and convenience. They apologize when they make mistakes. They do what’s right when no one is watching. They are the first to give credit and the first to accept blame. 

Leaders are genuinely curious. They ask questions and solicit feedback from everyone in the room. They fill the room with people who don’t always think like them, and who don’t come from the same background. 

To me, a leader is someone with… a bias for action and for taking initiative.   Tweet This!

Leaders encourage everyone around them to tell truth because they want to hear it, even when it hurts. And they tell the truth, even when it hurts. 

These are the people we trust and follow through adversity. They believe in us. They see the best that we have to offer. And they inspire and empower us to exceed our own expectations.

How are you living out what it means to be a leader? 

It’s probably good that I answered the prior question before I thought about this one, so I didn’t lower the bar on my definition to look like I measure up better.

I don’t set out each day to specifically identify as a leader. I don’t believe I ever have. I am more driven from my core set of ideals centred on awareness, empathy, courage, truth, and integrity. 

I practice what I preach in terms of tending to my own eOS. I meditate every day. I run through nature every day. I practice these daily self-care rituals to help me stay rooted in present moment awareness, so that I can show up for myself and for others in the most authentic way possible.

I think my most profound daily practice is gratitude. I’m grateful for everything. I thank the Universe for everything, every day. It took me a long time to cobble together a platform of self-worth from popsicle sticks and duct tape. So, I show up owning my inherent value, the one we are all entitled to, the one we are worthy of as our birthright. 

I tell the truth about myself. I think that when we show up flaws and all, and are honest about them, we give others permission to relax and to be more comfortable doing the same. 

I’d rather protect a relationship than be correct. I tell the people in my life when I see their gifts. I also tell people when I see their hurts. I let people be who they are. I make sure they know this is always enough. 

I’m living my dream. Coaching, and creating and sharing meaningful content about emotional intelligence is why I’m here. It’s everything I want to do. And I get that it’s a privilege to empower people to create the life they want at home, at work, and everywhere in between. 

Who is your favourite leader and why?

I’m going with a thought leader who, unbeknownst to her, is my spirit guide, and undoubtedly is the spirit guide to countless others: Oprah Winfrey. 

Why Oprah? Oprah is generous in her philanthropy and strategic with her platform. She continues to use her very powerful platform to advance causes that change our world for the better, by promoting racial equality, antiracism, and movements against sexual harassment and sexual abuse, to name only a few.

Oprah lifts others so that their voices can be heard. She clears space for young people to shine. She inspires and empowers people to exceed their own expectations, and to live their best life. 

I’d rather protect a relationship than be correct. I tell the people in my life when I see their gifts. I also tell people when I see their hurts. I let people be who they are.  Tweet This!

Born into poverty in rural Mississippi, Oprah endured sexual abuse into her teens. She became pregnant at 14 years of age, with her son being born prematurely and dying in infancy. She never let her story define her. She is self-made. Her vision is stronger than any adversity or challenge. 

And Oprah is also responsible for the turning point in my Hero’s Journey.

I remember the specific moment when my life changed forever. It happened on May 25, 2011. Near the 23:30 minute-mark of the Oprah Winfrey Show finale, Oprah explained that the common thread that runs through all of our pain and suffering is unworthiness; not feeling worthy enough to own the life we were created for. 

She went on to say that ‘we often block our own blessings because we don’t feel inherently good enough, or smart enough, or pretty enough, or worthy enough. We are worthy because we are born; because we are here. Being alive makes worthiness our birthright. You alone are enough.’ 

And then she said something that shook me to my core. She said that even people who believe they deserve to be happy often do not feel worthy. Oprah said that ‘there is a difference between thinking you deserve to be happy, and knowing you are worthy of happiness.’ 

Boom! There it was. The single most important ‘aha’ lesson of my life. I finally heard the message I needed to begin to fully reclaim my worthiness. That’s when I started gathering popsicle sticks.

And from there, I have learned and continue to learn invaluable life lessons every day from Oprah, and from her roster of fellow thought leaders such as: Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra, and Brené Brown. I am beyond grateful for Oprah. I have had the privilege to see her live on four occasions, the most recent being in February 2020 in Brooklyn, NY, for her Vision Tour: Your Life in Focus. 

What’s your superpower or secret skill?

My superpower, empathy, is also at times my kryptonite. 

With this superpower activation, like when Spiderman’s alter ego, Peter Parker, was bitten by a radioactive spider, came my ability to feel what other people are feeling, especially around emotions based in pain and fear. 

Feeling less-than at such a delicate, young age and living most of my adult life without a sense of positive self-worth, prompted my personal mission for all people to know the limitless value of their own inherent worthiness. 

I am able to connect deeply with people and build trust quickly. I have always thought it’s because the broken bits in me reflect back to others their own broken bits. I believe these bits make us stronger, like collagen fibres. As the 13th century Sufi mystic, Rumi, taught, ‘the wound is the place where the Light enters you.’ I am profoundly grateful for this skill.

I wasn’t always great at setting boundaries though. So, sometimes absorbing this heavy energy was exhausting. What Mike Walters, EITC EQ Coach, Leadership Coach (CPCC, PCC), and I uncovered during my EQ-i 2.0® certification training coaching session, is that my empathy superpower is out of balance with my assertiveness and decision-making skills. 

This information is powerful and very important to know. It’s what makes the insights from the EQ-i 2.0 assessment instrument reports life-changing. People, like myself, are provided with a road map to better master our eOS in order to navigate our environment, and our life, in the most productive, fulfilling manner. 

I understand that it’s neither optimal nor fair to any relationship to be so consumed by the emotions and feelings of others that it blocks my ability to advocate for my own needs. I am a work in progress. The next life challenge for me, that I humbly accept, is around clearly and fully expressing to others what I need from them, and courageously remaining open enough to receive it with grace.  

It’s in this light that I am so grateful to Mike for this nomination. I openly and graciously receive this opportunity to be considered for the EQ Change Leader recognition. 

Thank you.


Thank you, Andrea!

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