Ada Lovelace and the Highly Sensitive Entrepreneur

An example of an early highly sensitive entrepreneur was one of the digital revolution pioneers, Ada Lovelace. Walter Isaacson writes of Lovelace in his book titled “The Innovators” that she ‘would sow the seeds for a digital age that would blossom a hundred years later.’  She was the only legitimate child of the poet Lord Byron in the British royal court. The following excerpts are cited from chapter one – ‘Ada, Countess of Lovelace’ from Isaacson’s book and describes many traits of a highly creative and sensitive individual.

“Ada inherited her poetic and insubordinate temperament from her father…Lady Byron wanted to make sure that Ada did not turn out like her father, and part of her strategy was to have the girl study math, as if it were an antidote to poetic imagination. When Ada, at age five, showed a preference for geography, Lady Byron ordered that the subject be replaced by additional arithmetic lessons, and her governess soon proudly reported, “She adds up sums of five or six rows of figures with accuracy.” Despite these efforts, Ada developed some of her father’s propensities. She had an affair as a young teenager with one of her tutors, and when they were caught and the tutor banished, she tried to run away from home to be with him. In addition, she had mood swings that took her from feelings of grandiosity to despair,…”

“For this purpose there is no subject to be compared to Mathematics.” He prescribed Euclidean geometry, followed by a dose of trigonometry and algebra. That should cure anyone, they both thought, from having too many artistic or romantic passions.”

“William King was socially prominent, financially secure, quietly intelligent, and as taciturn as Ada was excitable. He proposed marriage within a few weeks of meeting Ada, and she accepted. “Gracious God, who has so mercifully given you an opportunity of turning aside your dangerous paths, has given you a friend and guardian, ” Lady Byron wrote her daughter, adding that she should use this opportunity to “bid adieu” to all her “peculiarities, caprices, and self-seeking. For William, it meant having a fascinating, eccentric wife from a wealthy and famous family.”

“She declared that she could relate to her father’s defiance of authority.  Referring to his “misused genius,” she wrote to her mother, “If he has transmitted to me any portion of that genius, I would use it to bring out great truths and principles.”

“Ada was never the great mathematician that her canonizers claim, but she was an eager pupil, able to grasp most of the basic concepts of calculus, and with her artistic sensibility she liked to visualize the changing curves and trajectories that the equations were describing. De Morgan encouraged her to focus on the rules for working through the equations, but she was more eager to discuss the underlying concepts. Likewise with geometry, she often asked for visual ways to picture problems, …Ada’s ability to appreciate the beauty of mathematics is a gift that eludes many people, including some who think of themselves as intellectual. She realized that math was a lovely language, one that describes the harmonies of the universe and can be poetic at times. Despite her mother’s efforts, she remained her father’s daughter, with a poetic sensibility that allowed her to view an equation as a brushstroke that painted an aspect of nature’s physical splendor, just as she could visualize the “wine-dark sea” or a woman who “walks in beauty, like the night.” But math’s appeal went even deeper; it was spiritual. Math “constitutes the language through which alone we can adequately express the great facts of the natural world,” she said, and it allows us to portray the “changes of mutual relationship” that unfold in creation.”

“By then Ada believed she possessed special, even supernatural abilities, what she called “an intuitive perception of hidden things.”

 

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