Flip It


Wednesday 10 March 2010

Michael Heppell

Flip It: How to get the best out of everything

The British Library Conference Centre, London

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Watching Michael Heppell speak is like shotgunning a bucket of espresso. A cheerful Geordie he bounded onto the stage to reveal how his simple formula can increase levels of happiness, confidence, creativity and success. His mission: To convert the London Business Forum (LBF) audience into Flip It thinkers.

The power of positive thinking is nothing new but Heppell believes not enough people actually have effective ways to get the best out of everything. "The secret isn’t in the knowing, it’s in the doing," he argued. Heppell suggests several areas in life and business where you can take positive thinking, Flip It and turn it into positive action:

Flip It for confidence and happiness

Flip It for friends, love and family

Flip It for health

Flip It for money

Flip It for success

Flip It for creativity

Flip It for work and business

"We’re of the belief that things happen to us," he told the LBF. Rather than questioning "why" things happen and dwelling on the negative, Heppell argues that we should be asking "How?" "How can I…" achieve a goal? "Why" isn’t helpful in being more creative either, he continued. Instead, we should ask ourselves “How can I turn this opportunity into a great opportunity?”

Heppell explained to the LBF that anything can be achieved “through the power of words.” Using the right words can alter the way we feel. “How are you today?” Heppell asked the LBF, concluding that most people respond with answers such as “fine” or “not bad.” He urged the LBF to see what happens not just to them but to those around them when they start using positive language.

Heppell’s message was to stop focussing on the negative. If you’re feeling tired, “Don’t say ‘I’m tired’, but ‘I could do with more energy,’” he said. If you Flip It and use positive language the brain starts to problem solve and look for ways to find more energy. The simple action of using better, more positive words is the first step to becoming a true Flip It thinker.

Thinking well is “where it all starts,” said Heppell. Quoting Dr Fiona Ellis, he explained that to be a healthy person you must “Eat well, think well, and move well.” He brought to mind other successful people who have spoken to the London Business Forum. What they all have in common, he suggested, is that they are optimists – Flip It thinkers.

“Hands up who would like to be thought of as an interesting person?” Heppell asked. The array of hands in the LBF audience answered a definite yes. However, when asked who considered themselves to be an interesting person the response was less positive. The traditional thinking is that an interesting person is well read, articulate and witty. Not so, explained Heppell, “You can be interesting by asking questions.”

To illustrate his point Heppell told the story of a young psychologist who flew back and forth between New York and Los Angeles every single day for a month. On every journey he would occupy the middle seat and have a conversation with both people sat either side of him. The conversation consisted of him asking them questions and if they ever asked him a question he would find a way to turn the conversation back to them.

This young psychologist would be interested rather than trying to be interesting. At the end of each flight he would get contact details from both his co-passengers and a researcher would then ring them and ask if they could remember him. They all remembered him and not only did they remember him but 70% thought he was one of the most interesting people they had ever met. Yet when questioned, not one of them could recall a single thing about him. By flipping the conventional wisdom on its head the young psychologist was interesting to others by being interested.

Heppell advised the LBF to set goals and to remember three things when doing so:

  1. Set personal goals – remember WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?)
  2. Set positive goals – don’t set goals that are based around avoiding negative things that happen to us.
  3. Set goals in the present tense – “I am…” not “I’m going to…”

To conclude and emphasise his point, Heppell used Muhammad Ali as an example of the perfect goal setter. Ali always told himself, “I am the greatest!” He thought about winning and being a winner. Through positive thought and action Ali became the greatest boxer that ever lived.