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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.

"The final stage is translation, when you take your insight and transform it into action."

  Daniel Goleman, The Creative Spirit, Part 5

So Silby went into a sensory deprivation tank – in which all sounds, sights, and other stimuli are muted – to meditate on the problem. "You need to have a space where your mental chatter and all the judgments and loudspeakers in your mind about who you are and what you are doing are turned down. And then you can get in touch with a deeper part of yourself that can start revealing patterns."

In the isolation tank Silby came up with a solution: a new financial instrument that allowed Calvert to cooperate, rather than compete, with the banks. The instrument, in short, let Calvert funnel its investors’ money into the dozen or so banks with the highest interest rates. The customers got the best return on their funds, while the banks gave Calvert an extra fee. The result: maintaining close to a billion dollars in business.


With luck, immersion and daydreaming lead to illumination, when all of a sudden the answer comes to you as if from nowhere. This is the stage that usually gets all the glory and attention. This is the moment that people sweat and long for, the feeling "This is it!"

But the thought alone – even if it is a breakthrough realization – is still not a creative act. The final stage is translation, when you take your insight and transform it into action. Translating your illumination into reality makes your great idea more than just a passing thought; it becomes useful to yourself and to others.

Any model of the stages in the creative process is only a rough approximation of a process that is actually quite fluid and can follow any number of courses. A writer or artist may have an ongoing series of illuminations that carry him through the entire work, from beginning to end. Or an inventor may find that most of her working time is spent in preparation and execution – the ninety-nine percent of genius that, as Edison told us, is perspiration, not inspiration.

More often over the course of a complex creation, like writing a screenplay or designing a building, the act of creation is a long series of acts, with multiple and cascading preparations, frustrations, incubations, illuminations, and translations into action.

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