Papert's Principle: Some of the most crucial steps in mental growth are based not simply on acquiring new skills, but on acquiring new administrative ways to use what one already knows
— The Society of Mind - Marvin Minsky
Richard Feynman was fond of giving the following advice on how to be a genius. You have to keep a dozen of your favorite problems constantly present in your mind, although by and large they will lay in a dormant state. Every time you hear or read a new trick or a new result, test it against each of your twelve problems to see whether it helps. Every once in a while there will be a hit, and people will say: "How did he do it? He must be a genius!"
my formula: get interested in something and get really deep. Find something else to apply it to. Allow yourself to dabble and tinker. You've got to have the right amount of reagents
I think the trick with knowledge is to "acquire it, and forget all except the perfume" -- because it is noisy and sometimes drowns out one's own "brain voices". The perfume part is important because it will help find the knowledge again to help get to the destinations the inner urges pick.