A wonderful piece on patience and perseverance from a Mathematician’s perspective – virtues key to success in any field, more so if you are an inventor. But this article ties it in with the whole process of learning for children and adults alike and adopting a growth mindset to living – accepting ‘the state of being stuck’ as Andrew Wiles puts it.

“What you have to handle when you start doing mathematics as an older child or as an adult is accepting the state of being stuck,” Wiles said. “People don’t get used to that. They find it very stressful.”

“These days, the educational conversation revolves instead around Carol Dweck’s grit-related concept of mindsets.

Some people exhibit a fixed mindset. They believe that one’s intelligence and abilities are unchanging, stable traits. Success, to them, is not about effort; it’s about raw ability. To struggle is to reveal your intellectual shortcomings. They can accept the state of being stuck only insofar as they accept the state of being visibly and irrefutably stupid—which is to say, not very far.

By contrast, those with a growth mindset believe that effort fuels progress. The harder you work, the more you’ll learn. To be stuck is a transient state, which you overcome with patience and persistence.”

“If you hold one mental image of Wiles, he wants it to be this: not the triumphant scholar with the medal around his neck, but the child learning to glory in the state of being stuck.“


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