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Have You Flatlined?

Have You Flatlined?

I do not want to scare you, but you might be flatlining right now. I am not speaking of the kind of flatlining like a cardiac incident. I am talking about just being flat; not progressing upwards in life or business. When you are flatlining you can just sense it. You know that you are not growing, developing, or evolving.

As a business coach, I believe business owners must look at their numbers and metrics every month. Numbers not only tell you how much money you have coming in and going out, but they tell you a story about growth, decline and flatlining from a purely analytical view.

When I work with individuals, one of the biggest challenges that my clients face is flatlined in an area of their life. On one level or another, they are stuck but aware enough to know they need to move upwards towards a better or position than where they are. Those clients know on a very personal and instinctual level that they need to take action, but they need someone to work with to help them get moving again.

Flatlining in business and in someone’s personal life have very similar indicators and often-similar ways of dealing with this condition.

Identifying when you are flatlined:

Lack of excitement – When you are flatlining and not moving up, the energy is very even. Today is just like yesterday and it will be the same tomorrow. There are no breakouts of new ideas, new challenges and new victories of note. For a team or business, this lack of excitement can be experienced by a sense of no new challenges for the team to face.

You are stuck in old patterns – The difference between being stuck and lack of excitement is that being stuck has some more tangible elements to it. Being stuck indicates that there are mindsets, habits and maybe policies in place that are keeping you where you are.

Think of the old rotting mooring lines on a boat. You can have a massive boat that is very powerful but a couple of relatively small lines (mindsets, habits or policies) can keep that boat from taking off from the dock and out to new seas.

Sense of the world passing you by – Again, for a number people this might be hard to understand but for the rest of us, you get a sense that your peers, your family and friends are moving forward and you are not. For numbers people and business owners, when you check on things like the finances, market reports, etc. and the data says that you should be growing on different levels and you are not, this is an indication of flatlining.

So, if you happen to be flatlining or leveled out what can you do about it?

As my mentor Dave Ramsey says, this is a good news – bad news thing. The bad news is that you are the cause of the problem. The good news is that you are also the solution. Moving back into a current of growth involves two major steps:

Mindset shift – Start waking up and counting your blessings. Stop thinking about what you have to do and start thinking about what you are able to do. In a work setting as the owner or manager, start thinking about how many external or internal customers you get to serve and share your unique products and services with. As an individual, same thing, start the process of changing your thinking to all the things you get to do today, this week.

Sometimes when people and teams flatline there is a sense of depression or lack of energy that can accompany this feeling. Thinking a little differently can put some much needed fuel in the collective tank and you will be surprised how innovation and new ideas start to come in when people are thinking about the cool stuff they are doing now and the cooler stuff they could be doing tomorrow.

Take action – Take action in a new direction. If you are a business leader, start increasing your knowledge of your industry by reading trade journals and other materials that discuss the challenges, new technology and trends in your industry. Everyone, no matter if you are a business leader or someone who is just personally feeling stuck, should include efforts to expand your network. It may be just the right time to meet someone who will provide that spark you are looking for. 

Another helpful action step is to engage a coach or even a consultant who can help you evaluate where you are and develop a plan of where you want to go. In business, it is not uncommon to have someone or teams come in and perform a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis that is used to create future business plans.

A personal coach might be engaged to help tackle a number of items in your life. I have engaged coaches to help me in areas as diverse as starting a coaching business to working on my kayak skills. Each time I was able to move from where I was stuck or flatlined. So, if you want to take action to move from where you are to where you want to go, check out engaging a coach. It might be just what you need to get you up and moving forward.

Coach’s Wrap Up

Flatlining can happen for a number of reasons, and it is not a bad thing to get to areas of stability as long as they are short durations. What can become dangerous is when you do not move again to the next level.

In business, doing what you did and how you did it years ago can lead to the business failing to grow and possibly failing. For the individual, do you really want to be the same person three years from now that you are today? Remember, movement and growth equal life.


Have you ever found yourself flatlined? How did that feel compared to the movement you took to move beyond that point? What was the better experience?


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