Star Gazing And Meaning Making With Anthony Mclean

30 Mar , 2022 podcasts

Star Gazing And Meaning Making With Anthony Mclean

CMO Anthony | Space For Imagination


In today’s digital and fast-paced world, everyone is too busy with a lot of things, be it in their families or their careers. Focusing on too many tasks at once leaves no more space for imagination. This results in an extremely stressful world full of unnecessary noise. Katherine Twells delves into elevating wellbeing with actor and speaker Anthony McLean. He talks about his hopes to finally blur the lines of racism, how to cope with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the importance of self-compassion today more than ever. Anthony also explains why taking a break from looking at too many screens daily can help build a better world around us.

Listen to the podcast here:


Star Gazing And Meaning Making With Anthony Mclean

How Honoring Our Lived Experience Unites Us

On the show, my guest is Anthony McLean. Anthony is an actor and speaker who shares his rich passion and lived experience on the topics of mental health, diversity, anti-racism, and how those dynamics intersect with each other to create a very powerful and important conversation. With a background in theater, he has delivered hundreds of inspiring talks across Canada, the US, and Australia. As a respected voice in his field, he has appeared on CBC News, Global Toronto’s morning show, and Breakfast Television.

Anthony is also an actor who has starred in many TV commercials for several brands across Canada and the US. He hosted the CBC Television show The X and was featured in the documentary films, Colour Me, SOAR, and Rising Above. In our conversation, Anthony shares the power of creating space for imagination and how, in this stressful world, our wellbeing depends on being seen, heard, and honored for the experiences that we are all living. I sincerely hope that you will enjoy the wisdom and humor of the very engaging Anthony McLean.

Anthony, thank you so much for taking the time to talk. I am so grateful.

I am so happy to be here.

We talked a little bit but this show is about a lot of things. It is about leadership and connection. In 2022, we are talking a lot as we think about moving through this pandemic age we have been in and all the societal shifts. We are talking a lot about our mental and emotional wellbeing and how we can increase our compassion and empathy.

Anthony’s Origin Story

In our conversation, I know from your background we can go into a lot of juicy areas in regards to all of that. What I would like to do to launch us on this journey is to start with your origin story. The origin story for all of us tells the tale of what shapes us and why our passions are what they are. I am going to turn it over to you to talk a little bit about your life story.

Again, thanks for having me. This is fantastic. I grew up in Aurora, Ontario, which is about 45 minutes North of Toronto. I was born in ’79, so I was a kid of the ’80s and the ’90s.

That was a great time.

The movies from that time, I still love Back to the Future, The Breakfast Club, and ’90s movies like Before Sunrise.

I tried to have my teenagers. I went on an ’80s movie thing with them. I was like, “You have to be initiated into the classics that I showed.” I got a little bit of, “I do not get it.”

Isn’t it heartbreaking? How could you not love Back to the Future?

CMO Anthony | Space For Imagination

Space For Imagination: It is infuriating when someone who’s never experienced something discounts another person’s life experience.


They were better on that one because it was a little more sci-fi. I am with you on that. I digress.

It is not a digression because I have got two teenagers. I did the same thing with them and I found the same thing. Back to the Future, they could go along with. They both got super uncomfortable in the car scene with Marty and his mom. Watching that with my kids was a very uncomfortable moment.

That was strange.

There is so much great media, content, and even music from the ’90s. I think about Biggie Smalls. There is so much good stuff. For me growing up, I grew up in a neighborhood where I was usually the only Black kid in my class. That came with challenges because the only reference my White friends had for Black people was Boyz n the Hood. That was it. It was like, “If you are Black, you are a gangster.”

My dad is a doctor and we are pretty well off. I found people would limit me like, “How come you do not talk like or act like this?” For me, it was a real identity crisis early on. My dad is Black and my mom is White. They got divorced when I was quite young and my dad moved to Miami. I am living in Canada with my White mom in a White neighborhood. I am visibly Black but I am being told that I am not Black enough.

You were caught in between two worlds.

Langston Hughes has a beautiful poem where he talks about mixed-race people being a bridge between two worlds but I didn’t feel like that bridge connected fully to either of those worlds. It more felt like I was floating in between. That was lonely and tough. As a teenager, I spent a lot of time looking up at the stars and being in nature because nature doesn’t care about your race, sexuality, or gender, and I would stare at the stars.

My origin story is being outside. We moved to a town North of Newmarket. If anyone knows that area, it is pretty far away from Toronto or the city. For me, looking at the stars every night became a safe place and a place of peace, meaning, and searching for what is important in life. I still have a wonderful relationship with nature and the stars.

I think about the state of our world and how much chaos we have all endured. There is something about moving into nature that can bring peace. I am also reflecting on as I have listened to so many origin stories of people on this show, people who have gone on to do such great things and this immense challenge that entered into their life at a young age. It is that challenge and the many faces of that.

It led them into a deeper sense of reflection and inquiry to, “Who am I? Where do I fit in this world?” Over time, we have learned that as much as we have loved in the past and still do to put stereotypes out there, every human has a very personal experience no matter what you look like on the outside. Would you agree?

One hundred percent, I love that quote. I tried to find who originally said it. I couldn’t find it. Maybe you know but the quote is, “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle nothing about so be gentle.” Especially in these times, we should all take that to heart.

Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Click To Tweet

It is so funny you bring that quote up because it is something that my mom would say to me for years. You do not know what is behind the exterior of anyone. I think about everything we have gone through in the last few years. Not only do you have your personal story. All of us have our personal stories, where we came from, what happened to us, the experiences we had, and the beliefs that shaped our lives.

Collective Trauma

In the last couple of years, we have been living a collective story and trauma. On the one hand, it has been nice to open the door to more vulnerable conversations finally. That has been the gift and there is always a gift and challenge. We have grown so much from it but it has been taxing and long. It has affected people in a lot of ways. How has it affected you and the way you see things?

I felt that as well for the first time in my life. I felt this sense of shared humanity, like the whole world going through trauma together. My grandfather was a part of the Royal Air Force in World War II. He is part of that greatest generation. I grew up hearing stories about butter being rationed. You couldn’t go to the supermarket and buy as much butter as you wanted. The world was going through this thing together. I never thought I would experience that.

There were moments where I felt connected to humanity in a very special way, especially early on in the pandemic. It felt like we were looking out for each other and taking care of each other. There was a real empathy that was happening at the beginning of the pandemic. Personally, I have never experienced the loneliness that I experienced during the lockdown. I am married. I have got two kids. We were together every day. I am an extroverted introvert or an introverted extrovert. It is one of those terms.

That is another term that says, “This is who you are.” We will go along the continuum.

I am both. I need people and I never realized how much I need people until I couldn’t get out there, shake hands, have a coffee, or go to a restaurant. It messed me up. There were days that were hard for me. I am a very positive and optimistic person. I am a person that encourages people, “You should try journaling, gratitude, meditation, breathing, and prayer. I have all these tools in my tool belt for my self-care.”

What I found is as much as personal self-care strategies are key and they are, we are a social species, and we need each other. Part of my mental wellness is connecting with other humans. Even if I am doing everything else if I am not connecting with other humans, I do not feel great. That was an interesting learning experience for me.

There is this ability to connect. I do not think we even fully understood the power of it until it was taken away. Isn’t that the way it works? You do not know what you got until it is gone. We all felt it. Even now, as people are starting to come back together and have meetings, you hear people say, “It is so good to be with other people.” That is who we are as humanity. It is fundamentally connected. We used to talk about this for years at the CMO Summit. It was the power of that interconnectivity, what that means for us, and how our actions are not isolated.

Stereotypes Growing Up

Our actions energetically affect all the people around us, which is so powerful. You talk a lot and you are an amazing storyteller. You did talk about, “I am this extroverted person.” You have all these things to share. You talk about mental health quite a bit and also diversity, racism, and the things that are going on. We also have gone through dramatic shifts with the George Floyd incident, everything that has happened, and how we are interacting with each other. How have you seen that developing from those days when they used to stereotype you and in growing up to how people are starting to think now?

I am seeing so much progress. I am so filled with hope when it comes to race, racism, diversity, and inclusion. Sometimes when I share this hope and talk about it, it is getting better. From the time I was a kid to the world I grew up in and then I see the world my teenagers are growing up in, it has gotten better. I think about my dad. He came to the United States and went to Howard University in Washington, DC in 1957.

He was not allowed to sit in the seat he wanted at the movie theater, rent the apartment he wanted, and drink from a water fountain. Sometimes we look at black and white images from that time. We think it was so far away, but this is my dad’s one generation removed. It wasn’t that long ago. That is why the idea that racism doesn’t still have an impact on the world is absurd. I think about what my dad went through, how much better it was for me, and yet I still went through stuff.

CMO Anthony | Space For Imagination

Space For Imagination: Put yourself in the shoes of others to be transformed by someone else’s experience. This makes you mindful of your impact on other human beings.


Portage Trip

I think about how much better it is for my kids. I know we are making progress. No one could tell me we are not making progress but when I start speaking like this, “It is getting better. I got hope for the future,” I always feel this pushback from people that are like, “It is not perfect. We are not fully there yet. Slow down.” The analogy I use is from a portage trip. Katherine, I got to ask you. Have you ever been on a portage trip?

I do not think I have.

I had never either. What portaging is, all the campers reading know about it. I didn’t know it when I was introduced to this world. I thought camping was when you drive your car to a campsite, park your car, plug in your air mattress into the car, fill it up, set up a tent, and sleep right beside your car in the tent. I thought that was camping. My friends took me on a portage trip. This is where you drive with a canoe on top of your car. You drive to a lake, get in the canoe, paddle maybe 2 or 3 miles across this lake, and then do the portaging.

That is when you put the canoe on top of your head and hike for a mile across the land. You put the canoe in the next leg and then you might have to paddle for 3 miles to another island. This is the canoe trip I went on or portaging. I remember we were three lakes in and I was exhausted. I am being bit by these bugs I have never seen in my life, like deer flies, horseflies, and dragonflies. We are paddling in this lake that is so long. I am looking at where land is on the other side and it is so far.

The sun and the bugs are beating me up. I am exhausted and my arms are burning. I look at how far we have to go in this lake. We have already been paddling for so long. I finally stopped and said to my friends, “Look how far the land is. We are not making any progress at all.” My friend says to me, “Anthony, turn around. Look how far we have come.” I turned around and realized we had made progress. I feel like that is where we are now.

We have come a long way. Sometimes you look at how far we still have to go. How many Black NFL head coaches do we have? We have 1 out of 32 teams when 70% of the NFL is Black and 3% of the head coaches are Black. Obviously, there is a problem. We haven’t arrived yet but you can get discouraged by looking at how far we still have to go. It is important to take time to look back, remember my dad, previous generations, and what it was like when I was a kid, and acknowledge. That is where I am at and that is the hope that I have.

Your animation and vibrancy and the light coming off you when you talk about your hope are authentic. It is coming through in your words that you see that. It is a journey. Pick your topic if we have ever arrived at anything because the minute you think you have arrived, something changes. You need to respond to the change and continue to be in some evolution to keep going.

Marginalizing Racism

My hope for racism is that 30 years or maybe 40 years from now, racism will be so marginalized it will be such a small issue. The power will be completely taken away to the point that racism doesn’t have enough impact on people’s daily lives. That is my hope for 40 years from now. Forty years from now, if you walk into a store, there is a Black clerk and a White clerk.

When you look at the two of them, race isn’t what you are thinking about as you consider who might know more about a certain thing. We will get to the place where race isn’t an issue for the average person. When Italians first came to North America, they were ostracized. When the Irish first came to North America, they were ostracized.

It was so bad. I know Irish families that changed their last names because they were being persecuted so badly and Italians as well. I have seen classified ads where people are looking forward to hiring someone. It would say, “No Italians wanted. No Irish wanted.” Now, that idea is so absurd and weird. We got past that. This angers some people. They are like, “We will never get there.” When it comes to anti-Black racism, I believe in my lifetime we will get to a point where it is so marginalized it is like, “That is so awful that it used to happen.” It is not that big of an issue anymore. That is my hope and that is what I believe.

It takes people holding that intention and vision and all of us taking action around it, which I believe I see a lot of evidence of us doing that. I would agree there is huge progress. Here is one of the things that I want to pivot into and go even a little bit deeper. Something very special about what you do is you look at the intersection of the conversation that we are having around the evolution of racism and this mental health piece that we talked about.

You can get discouraged by looking at how far you still have to go. Take time to look back. Click To Tweet

Self-Care And Mental Wellness

You tell some pretty powerful stories about experiences that you have had in your life and whether you have felt seen, heard, and valued. As we think about the broad dynamic of our self-care and mental wellness, there is this level of, “Can you be seen, heard, and respected for your truth?” We talk a lot about sharing our truth but we live in a society that often wants to tell you what that truth is versus embracing the different ones. Can you go a little bit deeper about how you talk about this intersection and how it affects all of us?

I remember being seventeen. I got my driver’s license. I remember getting pulled over by a police officer who told me, “I want to see if you stole this car.” I have had friends and family members who have gone through terrible run-ins with police officers. As a light-skinned person, I know my experience is different. I have had friends and family that have had it way worse than I have. This day, I was pulled over and told, “I want to see if you stole the car.” I was angry and upset. It was so upsetting.

What made it worse is that when I tried to communicate to friends what it was like and tell White friends what it was like and what happened, often they denied my experience. They would say things like, “Are you sure it was race, though? Maybe if you are a middle-aged White woman, you still would have gotten pulled over. How can you prove that it was based on race?” I was told, “We do not have racism in Canada. That happens in the States. That doesn’t happen here.”

The infuriating thing is that I think about the arrogance it takes for a person who has never experienced something to discount another person’s life experience. If I am at a restaurant with my wife and she uses the restroom, comes back, and says, “The lineup for the ladies’ room is so long,” imagine if I said, “I do not think so. I went to the restroom. I didn’t have a problem.” It is a different experience. All I can do is listen with empathy.

For me, when we talk about the intersection of anti-racism, it is doing work to undo the damage and harm that racism has created in our society. We talked about the intersection of anti-racism and mental wellness. Empathy and belonging are right there at that corner. I speak a lot about listening with empathy when someone shares a story with you. Someone tells me about a time they went through something where they were persecuted because of their sexuality.

As a straight person, I have to be mindful of my privilege that I do not know what that is like. Rather than deny, question, or be dismissive of their experience, if I can understand what that would be like, listen with empathy, and try to put myself in their shoes, there is an opportunity for me to be transformed by someone else’s experience and for me to be mindful as I exist in the world of the impact I am having on other human beings. Does that make sense?

It makes all the sense in the world. I feel like it is about honoring each other. We are not cookie-cutter people coming from the same backgrounds, beliefs, and experiences. We are all living in the world through our filters, lenses, and belief systems. Honoring each other is the ability to say, “I am here for you. I am bearing witness to the experience that you are having and seeking to understand.”

The more that we do that, whether it is a political divide or anything that comes up, we are living in a world with many areas of divide. There is power in empathy, kindness, and openness. What world could we create if we lived this way and stopped finger-pointing or denying someone else’s lived experience?

I am so with you.

Inner Work

As you talk to audiences about mental health and everything that we have gone through, and we talk a lot on this show about the inner work that we do does shape our outer world, how are we tackling the things inside of us that need to be addressed? What are some of the tools and remedies that you offer people to reach this point of empathy and other ways to take care of themselves during this time? What can you share with us on that?

One of the challenges we have as leaders is busyness, not just busyness in our schedule but our minds. I am finding myself thinking a lot about dopamine. Dopamine is released every time we get a little reward. It is the rush of checking your emails, seeing if someone got back to you, checking Twitter, or this constant search for dopamine. It is rewiring our brains. I find that my attention span is way less now than it was years ago because my brain is so used to getting these dopamine hits throughout the day. If someone starts sharing with me in the middle of my busy day or someone says, “Something happened,” if I am not careful, I won’t lean in and be all there with that one person.

CMO Anthony | Space For Imagination

Space For Imagination: Many people miss a lot because they’re replaying something from the past or worried about the future. They are not showing up in their fullness for what’s right here today.


I will be thinking about the meeting I came from, the email that I have to write, or the thing that I got to get back to this person about. I might miss what’s in front of me. The challenge in my life and what I invite other people to consider is creating margin. When are those moments in the day when you do not have to be plugged in? Maybe it is in transit. As leaders, we are so busy that in the bathroom, we are checking our phones. Maybe that should be a phone-free zone. What is it for you? What are the moments in the day that you can carve out time for margin? It is more important now than ever.

It is interesting because people will read what you said and say, “That makes total sense.” We have to do it. That is where you have to start coming to terms with if it is an addiction to your phone. You talked about rewiring the brain and we have talked about our teenagers. One of my teens couldn’t be on devices. He was like, “I am so bored.” I am like, “Be bored.” That is the space where your mind can enter into imagination. We are closing off the corridors of our imagination. We are at a crisis point and it is going to take some courage and strength for us to start creating boundaries for ourselves and our kids because this is the real deal. We are all more ADD. It is crazy.

We have never been here before. I love and use technology. I am all for it, but I also crave space, margin, and boredom.

It is the time under the stars when you were a kid.

I will be honest with you. If I had a smartphone, I wouldn’t have been under the stars. That scares me, to be honest.

It is something for us all to think about. Just like we have talked about how the progress and the dialogue of racism and diversity have evolved, I do see more conversations around what we are talking about now starting to emerge. People are starting to ask questions, “Is this healthy? Is this good? How do we regulate it?” We do not have the answers. We are evolving but the more we talk about it, it starts with one person at a time. What can you do to take a break and create space? If kids stop going out under the stars and cloud formations, what does that translate to for our future leaders or the people running the world, which is our kids?

As a parent, my wife and I were much better at this before the pandemic, but during the lockdown, screen time was off the charts. Before that, we were very mindful about, “Here is when you are allowed to be on screen time. There is no screen time between 6:00 PM and 8:00 PM.” We would always have times when they were bored.

They would end up doing Lego, playing a board game, or going outside because they knew it wasn’t an option. As parents, it is so important to set up those boundaries and say, “You can have an iPad or a PS5 but on Saturdays between 12:00 and 6:00, you are not allowed to be on it. During the week between 3:00 and 5:00, you are not allowed to be on it.” Go do anything else and maybe set up some of those boundaries for ourselves as well.

Our kids do not do what we say. If they ever do what we say, they do what we do. What do we model? I think about that. If I am taking them to school and there is a long red light and I have that little impulse like, “Let me see if so-and-so responded to that text and pick up that phone,” believe me, I think about it and go, “Do not pick up your phone because you are modeling the wrong thing.” It takes awareness. You talked about presence.

We have talked quite a bit about presence on this show because so many of us will miss a whole lot of our life because we are replaying something from the past or we are worried about the future. We are not showing up in our fullness for what is right here. To me, there are a lot of things. We could make a list of all the things we should do better. If there was one thing we did better, that was to be where you are fully, that would be a huge step of a remedy if we could do that more.

There is that quote, “Wherever you are, be all there.” It is attributed to the Buddha. It is such a great mantra. It is something we should think about. If I could put a billboard in every city in North America at the busiest intersection, that is what I would say.

At the intersection of anti-racism and mental wellness, empathy and belonging are right there at that corner. Click To Tweet

I am going to go back to your comments about nature and how nourishing that was for you. You think about COVID and there was that fascinating documentary about what happened to the planet during the lockdown and these various species of animals. I forget where it was streaming. I am sure there are people that know what I am talking about. They chronicled how the Earth healed. There is the fact that the whales could communicate with each other in the ocean because there weren’t cruise liners going through. There were so many things that regenerated. Here is the reason I bring that up.

Permission To Recover

I was at a customer conference. There was an amazing speaker who came from the athletic world as far as peak performance. In the athletic world, they talk a lot about how to reach higher heights and perform. The trick is our recovery. It is not taking away the stress and the intensity of the competition or the game but are you recovering? This space that we are talking about to me is, “Can we give ourselves permission to recover? What does that look like for us?” There is sleep, stillness, quiet time, and stargazing. How do we bring those back as the next innovation?

I think about the way my muscle is built. You tear the muscle fiber through the exercise but the time that it grows is during recovery. If you do not give it time to recover, it will not grow and you will not grow stronger. It is so hard when you have a smartphone. I have got a face ID on my phone. I do not even have to punch in a code. I can just hold my phone up and my phone is unlocked. I can press one button and see my checking account.

When I was a kid, if you wanted to check your checking account, you would have to go to the bank. If you had a thought like, “Do I need to transfer more from my savings to my check?” You would think, “Tomorrow, I will go to the bank and check it,” and then you get back to whatever you were thinking about. Now, you have that thought, your phone is already in your hand with face ID and one button, and you are checking it. It is the stimulation and the rewards that are available for your brain.

It is instant. It solved my problem in two seconds.

I love playing online chess but there are times that I am reaching for my phone to play chess because I am craving that dopamine release. I realized sometimes I shouldn’t be reaching for my phone to play a game or check an email. I should be focused on recovery. It is a difficult thing to have that discipline not to reach for your phone but I love that reminder.

We are having this conversation and we have been talking about the challenges. What would you say to our readers? It is like, “Start here. Do these 1 or 2 things.” What could be helpful?

An hour before bedtime, there are no screens. I know you have heard it before and I bet you agree with it in principle. What if you did it, got serious, and bought an old-school alarm clock? Your phone isn’t in your room-type thing. For one hour before bed, you can read, meditate, look at the stars, or color. Coloring is amazing. You can work on a puzzle, do some Lego, crawl into bed with your kids, or tell them a story. What if you make it and introduce it to your whole family?

“We are not going to have any screens after this time.” In the beginning, there are groans but what if it becomes a life habit for you and your kids and they keep it going? What if that margin increases your piece and makes you more creative? What if, in that space or boredom, you start coming up with solutions and interacting with your kids in a way you never have before? Maybe that is the starting place of, “There are going to be no screens after this time,” or that is a place where you can start.

The way you talked about this is like, “Do this one thing and you might change the entire world.” It is something small. Here is what I know is going to happen. For all you reading this, this is our challenge to give this a try. We are throwing it down. This is a true story. This has happened to me. I was like, “I talked to my friend and I should turn off the internet at night because then you do not even have EMF.” You are like, “It is all off.” What did my tricky little mind say?

Rapid Fire Questions

“Use your alarm clock through your phone or Google. You have to buy an alarm clock. What if someone needs to reach you? What if there is an emergency?” Let’s go off the list of all the reasons why you think you can shut things down at night. Have little compassion and empathy for people trying to do this. You might need to buy an alarm clock and a few things but it is worth the experiment. Let’s all give it a try. Are you open to pivoting to a little fun and games and answering a couple of rapid-fire questions? Are you game for that?

CMO Anthony | Space For Imagination

Space For Imagination: Self-compassion is a great starting place for change and accountability. It’s not letting yourself off the hook but being more compassionate with how you respond to your own insecurities and mistakes.


Let’s go.

It is the first thing that comes to your mind. Question one, if you could orchestrate a roundtable of people to chart the entire course for the world, who would you invite to this roundtable? From the top of your head, who is going to show up at the party?

I need diversity around the table. I need someone a lot older and a lot younger. I need a young person. It is someone like my kids or someone Gen Z. I am going to bring both of my kids, Josh and Ari. They are going to speak for Gen Z about what they see because we can learn so much from the younger generation. I need someone from the older generation. It is someone who has been there and done that, has been around the block, and understands a lot that I do not understand.

From the older generation, I am grabbing Oprah. Oprah, I am so sorry. I am not calling you old. It is just I need someone younger than me. She’s wise. I want someone who understands a lot more about climate change than I do because it is one of the issues that unite us. We’ve got to do something about it. I am going to bring in someone for climate change. I do not know who. Katherine, who should I bring in for climate change?

I am the interviewer. I do not have to answer that question but I will think about it.

I want to think about all the problems that we are facing in the world, get some brilliant minds together, and have diversity around the table. I want people who see the problem from a different perspective. I want every nation represented. We need a big table because I do not want to have a North American perspective on, “This is how the world is.” Maybe that is how LA is because that is where I am living or that is how Toronto is because that is where I grew up. I need a worldly perspective, so I need people from all over the world. The table is getting too big. Katherine, what’s the next rapid-fire question?

I might not be at the party but please invite me to the after-party because that is good. Rapid-fire question two, define your life’s purpose in one word.

It is meaning. For me, looking at the stars as a kid, that is what the question was. It is like, “What’s the point of all this? Where is the meaning?” Whether we are at work or home with our families, meaning is everything. Life means something. How you treat other people means something. We might not remember what you said and what you did. Maya Angelou said, “We will always remember how you made us feel,” how we treat each other means something.

There is one more rapid-fire. None of them are shallow. They are all pretty deep. Here is the last one. If you could instill one quality immediately into all of humanity, what would that quality be?

It is self-compassion. Leaders, we need self-compassion. Self-compassion is the ability to look at our mistakes and say, “I did not get a lot of sleep last night,” or look at our dysfunction and the family that we grew up in, “When I was growing up, I saw that model. It makes sense.” Self-compassion for me is a great starting place for change and accountability. It is not letting yourself off the hook but it is being more compassionate with how you respond to your dysfunction, insecurities, and mistakes.

I find the more compassionate I am towards myself, the more compassionate I am towards everyone else. I am a better parent when I am compassionate towards myself. I am a better partner to my spouse. I am better at work. I am a better leader. For me, self-compassion is everything. The world would be a kinder and more efficient place if we would all have more compassion towards ourselves.

When you are happy, don't make a promise. When you are angry, don't write an email. When you are drunk, don't say I love you. Click To Tweet

I am so glad you elaborated because you spoke some powerful truth there. Self-kindness tends to lead to outward kindness. It is a bridge to a much better world. Those are beautiful choices. There are only two more questions left. You are going to be joining the Coca-Cola Compassion Lab as our featured speaker on the 4th of May, 2022. How else can people find you and interact with you if they want to know more about you? Where should they go?

I realized. It is Star Wars Day.

There is some synchronicity there.

That has got to mean something. May the 4th be with you. If people want to track me, they can follow me on Instagram. I am @IFindMeaning. When you asked me your life’s purpose in one word, I was like, “How can I ever pick it?” On Twitter, I am @AnthonyMcLean. I am on LinkedIn too, Anthony McLean.

Thank you. I am going to close out with one last question of contemplation. You have already shared so much wisdom, so I do not know if you have got more gas left in the tank. What has been one of the greatest pieces of wisdom that you have ever received that you would share with our readers?

When you are happy, do not make a promise. When you are angry, do not write an email. When you are drunk, do not say, “I love you.”

I cannot top that, Anthony. All I need to do now is say thank you. I have so much gratitude for this conversation. I have learned so much. I know that people reading have learned so much. Thank you for being with us.

Thanks so much for having me.


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About Anthony McLean

CMO Anthony | Space For ImaginationWith a background in theatre, Anthony McLean delivers lively presentations on mental health, diversity, and anti-racism. He has delivered hundreds of inspiring talks across Canada, the US, and Australia, and, as a respected voice in his field, appeared on CBC News, Global Toronto’s Morning Show, and Breakfast Television. Anthony is also an actor who has starred in television commercials for Ford, Milk, Tim Horton’s, Sprite, Verizon Wireless, and Bell. He hosted the CBC Television show The X and was featured in the documentary films Colour Me, SOAR, and Rising Above. He lives in California with his wife and their two kids.

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