Failure is More Important than Success

“Failure is more important than success because it brings intelligence to light the bony structure of the universe.” (E. L. Mayo)

I’ve always been captivated by this poem though I’m not for sure I understand it.  I just intuitively know that it conveys great wisdom and wisdom is always complicated, paradoxical, and convoluted.

Failure is necessary as it counters our obsession with “success.”  Oh, we need success and our species has been very “successful” in so many respects.  We have created so much stuff and have made our life so much easier, perhaps too easy in ways.  Auden noted, “We have made our lives safer than we can bear.”  But it is the failures that humble us and teach us that there is more to life than “stuff”.  These “failures” can show us a qualitative intelligence that allows us to see the graciousness of life and without this insight the “structure of the universe” is quite “bony.”


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