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Excerpted from The Creative Spirit by Daniel Goleman, Paul Kaufman, and Michael Ray. Copyright © 1992 by Daniel Goleman. Excerpted by permission of Penguin Putnam, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.

"No matter who you are, the creative spirit can enter your life."

  Daniel Goleman
The Creative Spirit
, Part 1

Has this ever happened to you?

You’re out for a jog, you’re completely relaxed, your mind a pleasant blank.

Then all of a sudden into your head pops the solution to a problem you’ve been mulling over for days or weeks. You can’t help but wonder why you didn’t think of it before....

In such moments you’ve made contact with the creative spirit, that elusive muse of good – and sometimes great – ideas. The creative spirit is more than an occasional insight or whimsical flourish. When the creative spirit stirs, it animates a style of being: a lifetime filled with the desire to innovate, to explore new ways of doing things, to bring dreams into reality.

No matter who you are, the creative spirit can enter your life. It is at hand for anyone who has the urge to tinker, to explore new possibilities, to leave things a little better than before. The creative spirit was at work, for example, in the life of Martin Luther King, JR., whose vision and nonviolent social tactics changed his nation. And it was at work throughout the life of Martha Graham, who continued to transform modern dance up to her death at ninety-six. But that spirit also shows up in the adventurous cook who continually invents recipes, or the inspiring teacher who constantly finds new ways to challenge students.

Creative moments are vital to everything we do in any area of life: relationships, family, work, community. In this chapter we’re going to examine the anatomy of the creative moment and explore the essence of creativity....

Paving the Way

Back to our jogger.

That flash of inspiration, that instant when you solve a problem you’ve grappled with for weeks, is the final moment of a process marked by distinctive stages. The nineteenth-century French mathematician Henri Poincare – who realized in a flash the solution to a difficult mathematical problem while mulling it over on vacation – was among the first to propose what are still regarded as the basic steps in creative problem-solving.

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