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Kary Oberbrunner on Becoming "Unhackable"

Becoming Unhackable

“The glory of God is a person fully alive,” said St. Irenaeus, which Kary likes to quote. Helping people become fully alive by achieving their God-given goals is Kary Oberbrunner’s mission. Another of his favorite quotes is by French General Ferdinand Foch: “The most powerful weapon on earth is a soul on fire.” To that, Kary adds, “Souls on fire know who they are, why they’re here, and where they’re going.” That’s where the word “unhackable” comes in. He defines the term as the ability to achieve one’s goals without being hacked, or sidelined by the endless distractions in this world. Kary says that just as computers, bank accounts, and phones get hacked by people who gain unauthorized access, so do our brains by a number of things: smartphones, multitasking, social media, streaming videos, advertisements, and decision fatigue. “Navigating our noisy world long enough to accomplish our daily tasks – much less our dreams – is nearly impossible, especially these days. The odds are clearly stacked against us and temptations lurk less than an arm’s length away,” he warns.    

Decision Fatigue

One such distraction, Kary says, is all the decisions we have to make on a daily basis. “According to Psychology Today, the average adult makes around 35,000 decisions a day,” he quotes. “...a study done by Cornell University revealed that we make 226.7 daily decisions about food alone.” As access to information has increased, thanks to technology, those decisions have only multiplied. Kary says that human knowledge use to double every 1,000 years; now it’s every 12 hours! More options and information result and more things to consider in our decisions. He says it’s no wonder that we can’t keep up. “The cost of making all these decisions produces something called decision fatigue. The quality of our decisions deteriorates over time. Similar to muscle becoming fatigued from an excessive period of exercise, our minds experience fatigue after an excessive period of decision-making.  

Tools To Help

Kary suggests a number or methods to help cut down on decision fatigue. One is called “DO, DELEGATE, DUMP,” and relates to all the “open windows,” or undecided matters swirling through our brains. “The majority of us have way too many programs running in the background when we start up in the morning” he says. Everything from what we need to accomplish at work, to picking up the kids, to yardwork that needs to be done seeps into our subconscious, he says, and fills it up. Kary likens it to computer RAM (random access memory), and says that we all have a limited amount of energy for decisions. The sooner we can make them, and close those windows, the more energy we conserve. He says we can cut down on the pressure of all those decisions by making a list of every undecided matter, then placing each of them in one of three categories: DO IT = I do it!  DELEGATE IT = Somebody else does it! DUMP IT = Nobody does it! This “closes” an open window by settling the issue of who will handle each item. He emphatically says that “DELAY IT” is not one of the options, as it poses another question, “Who does it?”, leaving the window open.

Once we’ve categorized our decisions, Kary says we can sharpen our focus through urgency, which means setting deadlines. “Urgency requires action because of a baked-in deadline. If the deadline is ignored there’s a price to pay in terms of health, finances, quality, or relationships. The factor that makes something urgent is the cost involved.” He gives the example of Tax Day in America, April 15. Without both a deadline, and a penalty for not meeting it, Kary says most people would never do their taxes. As it is, 22% of Americans still wait until the final two weeks to file, despite the fact that most receive a refund -- averaging $2400! He adds the following about deadlines:  

  • About 1/3 of the population waits until the last minute to do things. 
  • Deadlines with penalties create urgency.
  • Without deadlines, very few things would get done. 

“Desire without a deadline is simply a pipe dream,” Kary believes. “It’s easy to be fuzzy.  Writing down a date makes it real. Even if you miss the date, it creates accountability. You know if you’ve made it or missed it.” Kary wants all who read Unhackable to achieve high performance, productivity, and realized goals and dreams, even in a world riddled with distraction.

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