Of course you want an “edge.” Life is competitive.
In business, you want the extra sale.
In nonprofits, you want to raise the additional dollars.
In sports, you want to win.
Our small college swim team was always looking for an edge. We would train twice a day for much of the year to get better. At the end of the year for the big meets, we would shave our bodies to cut down on drag. My senior year, five of us who qualified for Nationals even shaved our heads – we were hydrodynamic!
But you have to be careful of the classic “slippery slope” when you are looking for an “edge.” One small step over the line and you can slide a lot further.
“I’m telling the customer we can have the product delivered by the date they requested.”
“But production told us there was no way they could get it done by then.”
“Yeah – but they won’t figure that out until after we get the order. Don’t be such a goody goody.”
“If we reallocate some of these expenses to education then our fundraising costs will look better and we will raise more money.”
“Yeah – but those really aren’t education expenses.”
“No one will know! Don’t you want to raise more money for the needy?”
“If we signal our batters once we figure out the pitcher’s signs by using the video feed then they will have a better chance of getting a hit.”
“Yeah – but didn’t the league office just clearly outlaw that?”
“We are just looking for an edge! Don’t you want to win the World Series?”
Of course, a good response to that last statement would have been:
“Yes – I want to win the World Series, but I want to be proud of doing it without cheating. And I don’t want the risk that everyone in the world will know we cheated.”
And this, of course, is where the Houston Astros are now after their sign stealing arrangement was revealed. It’s easy to see how it happens – slowly but surely. You want to win, you want an edge, and then a couple of inches over the line goes further. How sad for them.
It is great to seek an edge, but be very mindful of where the lines between right and wrong really are. It’s best to stay fully on the right side of the line or – before you know it – you can find yourself far over.