Speaker Feature: Sarah Wells

Sarah Wells is a Canadian Olympian specializing in the 400m hurdles. In 2012, Sarah represented Canada at the London Olympics and finished as an Olympic Semi Finalist. In 2015, she was became a double-medalist at the Pan-American games. Sarah now has her sights set on competing in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Learn more about Sarah:

Why do you think failure has a bad reputation?

Failure has been made a villain in our society. We speak about it as a loss, as a negative, something to be covered up instead of celebrated. We have adopted a mindset that creates a fear of failure…and we continue to reinforce this mindset with the way we talk about it. If a sports team is expected to do well and they “fail” we say they choked. But choking can be fatal! Is a lack of the desired outcome fatal?! I hope not. So, if we want to change the way we think about failure we have to change the way we speak about it. See it as an opportunity of progress, not a chance to “choke”.

What does failure mean to you?

Failure defines learning for me. Every time I fail, I learn at an exponential rate. More often than not, a huge fail means an incredible lesson to improve in the future.

What should we do when we fail?

Simple answer. Get. Back. Up.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time/what are your hobbies?

I love trying new restaurants, specifically brunch places. I am basically a french toast and pancake connoisseur. If you need a brunch buddy, I’ll be there 🙂

How would your friends describe you in 3 words or less?

Always smiling.

What is your favourite TED/TEDx talk and why?

I really love Amy Cuddy – Your body language shapes who you are. As an athlete, I’ve been able to adopt her recommendations of using body language and power poses to operate on a frequency that allows me to bring out the best in my performance and races.

What is something you can’t live without?


What are you most proud of?

My siblings. They all have such incredible strengths and have accomplished so many things. They each make me and everyone around them better people.

What is the role that conversation plays in your life?

Oh gosh. Conversation is an integral part of my life! One, I love talking. My mom said I would never finish my dinner at the same time as everyone else when I was growing up because I wouldn’t shut up. And two, I think everyone has a story to tell and something they can teach you. If you can create an open and honest and safe space for conversation, magical things can happen.

What is your personal philosophy?

Have the courage to believe in yourself. It will be the spark to ignite your dream.

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