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Sages, Saboteurs, and Creativity: Illuminate x Durham's Speaker Time Conference

Hello everyone! My name is Vedhika Seralathan and I am a Grade 11 student at J. Clarke Richardson Collegiate. On April 9, 2021, I had the pleasure to attend Illuminate x Durham’s Speaker Time conference. Here are my thoughts highlighting what I learned about the session.


I realized that leaders can be made and not born and that everyone can be a leader in their way. Someone does not have to be an extrovert to be a good leader; he or she can be an introvert too. I also realized that creativity can vary at different levels, and this type of creativity can inspire anyone to become their form of an entrepreneur.


Alina Huang, the CEO and Founder of Illuminate, taught us that mental health fitness is more important than we initially perceive it. Your mental health fitness is a measure of your positive mental muscles compared to your negative mental muscles (also known as the Sage and Saboteur respectively).



Sages handle situations through positive emotions like gratitude, kindness, and creativity, while Saboteurs handle situations through stress, anger, regret, or disappointment. Did you know that there can be a balance between these mental health muscles? The balance between the Sage and Saboteurs of a person is called the PQ, also known as your Positive Intelligence Quotient.



I was excited to learn this because knowing this would help me balance my emotions in different situations, and it can help me control them more effectively without losing myself in different locations. Additionally, learning this can make me aid others who might not have full control of their negative and positive emotions. If I'm able to boost my PQ, then I can help others boost their PQs. This benefits both me and my peers, which can then increase our Sages.



Alina then showed us a quote from someone named Shirzad Chamine,


"The most effective way for Weakening your Saboteurs is to simply observe and label your Saboteur thoughts or feelings every time you notice them".


This quote helps us identify when we might experience more Saboteurs than our Sages, and we can then transform that realization into a balance or higher Sages for ourselves.



Another thing that I enjoyed about this session was that students were sent into Breakout Rooms to create a business idea based on two pictures. In my group, we created a product based on the picture of a cow and a rocket (Option 1). This activity helped boost our imagination and creativity when we were presented with absurd prompts like the options presented below. In doing this activity, our brains try to think of things that can correlate between the given images. This trains our brains to connect ideas together, even if they initially seem bizarre to connect together.



Activities like the prompt ideas above can help fuel creativity and imagination, which are essential skills when applying for any job. Additionally, people should learn how to manage their emotions and handle situations without making a scene in front of their peers or colleagues. This is where the PQ comes into play, as it is the balance between the Sage and the Saboteur mental muscles. This balance shows that someone isn't feeling more negative vs. positive, and vice versa. Having this balance of emotions is necessary as many jobs require being manageable under pressure.


This event highlighted the importance of our emotions, the ways we handle them, and reaching a balance between the Sage and Saboteur mental muscles. This event also pointed out the different ways we can increase our creativity through prompts. Although this event came to an end, I’m going to use Alina’s advice for balancing our emotions and her advice for increasing our creativity. Thank you so much Illuminate x Durham for hosting this event, and thank you so much Alina Huang for teaching us these notable ideas!