Ozark and slippery slopes

We recently watched the Ozark series on Netflix. It is the story of a financial planner who relocates his family to the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri after a money laundering scheme goes very wrong. It is a good show with strong and well developed characters.

The one idea that the show hammered home for me was the idea of the slippery slope. It shows the downstream impact of one decision that compromises our ethics. That decision leads to the next bad one and the one after that. Covering the tracks of each of these decisions lead to many more decisions that further compromise our ethics.

Before we know it, we find ourselves in a place that is unrecognizable from where we started.

It reminded me of the Clay Christensen anecdote about a cyclist who made the decision to dope “just this once.” No cyclist starts cycling with dreams of becoming a doping addict. But, he might make an exception “just this once” for an extenuating circumstance. And, before he realizes it, doping becomes the new norm. A slippery slope.

Clay’s advice is two-fold. First, make sure you have ethics and principles that you care about. And, second, stick to those ethics and principles 100% of the time. Never make allowances for extenuating circumstances because life is a never ending series of extenuating circumstances.

We know this to be true. The Ozark story arc brings it to life on the screen nicely.