Many things have an operating system. When you understand the system you can improve how it works or use it more effectively. Computers are often used as a metaphor to explain why the operating system is important.  At the heart of a computer is its operating system (think i0S, Windows or Linux), which actually runs its software and hardware functions.  By updating your computer’s operating system, you increase its functionality.

You also have an operating system that manages your thoughts, emotions, decisions and much more.  If you don’t understand your human operating system and how to upgrade it when it has reached its limit, you may be sleep-walking through life.

In David’s book, The Power of TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic), he explains the human operating systems and gives it a name—your FISBE.  (It sounds like Frisbee, the toy, without the “r.”)

Your FISBE has 3 parts:

  • F” is what you Focus on or your thoughts;
  • IS” is your Inner State or emotions; and
  • BE” is your Behavior or what actions you take.

These 3 circles illustrate how your FISBE operating system works together (thanks to Bob Anderson, of The Leadership Circle, for developing the original loop diagram).



What you think about, or focus on, produces an emotional inner state that drives your behavior.  As human beings, we are cognitive (focus); emotional (inner state); and behavioral creatures. Your FISBE – your internal operating system – constantly runs your life, whether you are aware of it or not.

Here’s an example of how two people in the same situation can engage a different FISBE:

One person walks on a beach.  They focus on a sail boat on the horizon and recall one time when they almost drowned from a childhood boating accident.  Their focus on the boating accident evokes an inner state of fear.  To manage their fear, they move away from the water (their behavior).

A second person walks on the same beach.  They see the sail boat and focus on sailing with their family, which evokes happy memories and feeling loved.   Wanting to savor the moment, they slow down and linger on the beach (their behavior).

The first person engaged a Victim Orientation, by recalling a problem (boating accident) that became their focus, even though they had other positive experiences with boating.  The second person responded to what they were experiencing from a Creator Orientation, in which their focus was on a pleasant experience, which tapped an inner state of desire for similar experiences.

When we teach leaders about FISBE, they see many ways to apply it at work.  For example, during a meeting they may ask their team:  “What is our focus?  Are we reacting to our anxiety about problems we see?  Or, are we clarifying what we want to create together and taking one step (a Baby Step) to get closer to and clearer about what we want to create?”

The key to upgrading your operating system is to pause and ask yourself: “Where am I putting my focus?  What is my inner state?”  By identifying your FISBE (operating system) you can choose to put your focus on what will serve you and others.

During the next week, we encourage you to pay attention to your FISBE.  Notice what you focus on and the inner state it evokes.  Then notice the behavior you choose in response to your inner state.  The FISBE framework is a simple yet very powerful tool to understand your human operating system.

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