Talent or Practice – What Matters More?
A variety of perspectives on the origins of greatness.
About The Dan Plan
Dan McLaughlin decided, at 30 years old, to quit his day job and become a professional golfer. The only issue was that he had zero experience in the sport, having never actually played 18 holes of golf. So, he started The Dan Plan, an experiment in one human’s potential. The ultimate goal? To see what is possible through 10,000 hours of highly focussed practice.
He has been writing about his experiences and recording statistics since the project began in April, 2010.
Currently, Dan is somewhere on a golf course or driving range doing what he has not been paid to do for the past 2 years, and loving every minute of it.
The Dan Plan is a six-year project testing how far an individual can go in a specific field with practice alone. It is based in golf, something that I had next to zero experience in prior to beginning The Dan Plan in April 2010. The stated goal is to put in 10,000 hours of the "deliberate practice" Dr. K Anders Ericsson often publishes about in an attempt to make the PGA Tour, golf's highest rank.
I had read a lot about whether or not talent existed and it seemed that there were two main camps: those who believe certain people are born better at specific things and those who think anything is possible with enough elbow grease. The moderate approach is to say that your genetics mixed with your will determine your ultimate potential, but I wanted to see for sure how far an average person could go in something completely new later in life, so I began practicing golf when I was 30 years old. I have not approached this as the leisure activity it is for most. To me, golf is my job, my full time job, and I take it very seriously. I am completely dedicated to this project and have honestly developed a love for the game. Some of the current statistics can be found at http://thedanplan.com/stats.php
To date, I have put in roughly 2,500 hours of practice and have seen a steady improvement in all areas, albeit with plenty of week and even month long lulls and mini-plateaus. I started at the hole with putting alone and only after reaching specific levels of skill did I move further back. It was not until December 22, 2011 that I got my first full set of clubs. Now, I am finally playing for real, but still spend most of my days practicing different swing mechanics.
From the progress that I have seen over the past 21 months I have a firm belief that reaching the highest level in this practice is possible. I have not yet seen contrary evidence in my development as a golfer.
It's unfortunate that this project has an N of 1, but it's kind of hard to talk others into saving up money and quitting their jobs to pursue something that they have never tried..