I found out that in science in all its application what is crucial is not that technical ability, but it is imagination in all of its application. The ability to form concepts with images of entities and processes pictured by intuition. I found out that advances in science rarely come upstream from an ability to stand at a blackboard and conjure images from unfolding mathematical proposition and equations. They are instead the product of downstream imagination leading to hard work during which mathematical reasoning may or may not prove to be relevant. Ideas emerge when a part of the real or imagined world is studied for its own sake. Of foremost importance is a thorough, well organised knowledge of all of that is know of the relevant entities and processes in that domain you propose to enter.
E.O. Wilson’s Advice to Young Scientists is a no-nonsense presentation of the wisdom gained from Wilson’s long career as a scientist and teacher. He offers several principles on which to base a scientific career, much of which applies beyond the sciences.