[talked] about the idea of quitting everything to pursue something single-mindedly and whole-heartedly. Did you need talent or was it all about hard work?
” McLaughlin shared. He wanted to find out. And so did a lot of other people.
Once McLaughlin published his blog and set about capturing his journey, media outlets grabbed it and ran with the story. Eager to see a real life test of the theory, McLaughlin drew interest from researchers, including K. Anders Ericsson himself. A host of other dreamers followed McLaughlin, captivated by the audacity of his endeavor.
10000 hours equates to about 10 years of deliberate practice. Make it a fulltime job, and you could reach expert level in nearly half that time. That became McLaughlin’s aspiration. And with the help of Ericsson and numerous other specialists, he starting logging over 30 hours a week of practice.
It worked remarkably well. Following Ericsson’s stringent guidelines for deliberate practice, he progressed relatively quickly. After four years, McLaughlin moved from hardly knowing how to hold a club to lowering his handicap to 2.6. This all-time low meant he could count himself among the top 6% of golfers in the country. Good but not elite – yet.
The End of the Saga
Unfortunately we won’t know the outcome of 10000 hours of deliberate practice. Soon after hitting an all-time best, the Dan Plan started unraveling. The intensity of the training and hours of repetition put McLaughlin’s body to the test. During a routine swing on the course, his back gave out and he found himself on the ground in pain. He wouldn’t swing another club for six months.
His injury might make for the kind of comeback story many professional athletes recount. For McLaughlin, it didn’t happen. He made some attempts at rehab, which he captured on his blog. Then he went silent for two years, leaving his fans to wonder what became of Dan and his plan.
Finally, just a few days ago, McLaughlin broke his silence with an interview and post on his blog. The conclusion? He’s moving on. Although disappointing to his fans and the researchers who looked forward to a live case study, his experiment still provides insight. As John Maxwell points out, “Sometimes you win; sometimes you learn.” And learn we do.
In one interview, McLaughlin describes his commitment to golf as follows: “I was very serious about it, but it never became an obsession. At the end of the day, I could always walk away and say, ‘What’s next?’”
The Missing Criterion
And therein lies the moral to the story. To reach highest level of anything, you must commit yourself to an inordinate amount of effort. You can only sustain the amount of effort needed through an emotional investment second to none. Can you do it without obsession? And how do you manufacture it if you don’t feel it?
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The Dan Plan, USGA Handicaps, The Average Guy Who Spent 6,003 Hours Trying to Be a Professional Golfer,