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I’ve spent the better part of the last forty years trying to understand the workings of the Sun as revealed by observations, primarily from NASA missions. Unfortunately, I’ve failed more often than not, but once in a while, I’ve had an idea that led to significant progress (I hope!). In this talk I will give a forward-looking retrospective on my experiences and attempt to draw useful insights on what it takes to make a real advance in understanding how the Sun works. My feeling is that the lessons I have learned on generating new ideas and theories apply to all areas of science, and would be useful for anyone interested in pursuing a career in theory and modeling.