The Dan Plan


If you quit your job and spent all your time _________ , how good could you get? How many times have you asked yourself this on Thursday afternoon in your cubicle?

This week, we had the great pleasure of interviewing an incredibly Good Guy To Know; Dan McLaughlin of thedanplan.com.  Two years ago Dan quit his job as a commercial photographer to try and become a professional golfer. He had never played a serious round in his life, and wasn’t even sure if he should golf left or right-handed

This would be pretty amazing on its own, but where it gets really cool, is that he didn’t do this just to follow a dream (it really was never a dream at all), but he’s testing a theory. That theory set forth by Dr. K Anders Ericsson, and popularized by Malcom Gladwell’s popular book Outliers, claims that in order to excel at some endeavor, natural talent is less important than spending 10,000 hours of deliberate practice honing the skill.

The tricky part of the study, is that this theory was based on only observational data looking at various groups of people that had already attained ‘expert’ status. So be they violinists, or hockey players, Ericsson found that the ‘experts’ usually attained that level only after 10,000 hours.

So the Dan plan is all about conducting an actual experiment. He deliberately chose golf, not only because it’s a fun outdoor activity (and presumably more marketable to the mainstream), but because it was something easily measurable, non-subjective, and has a very defined endpoint. If he chose to become an expert stand-up comic, it would be pretty difficult to gauge his progress, and certainly impossible to decide when he became an expert. Golf affords the opportunity to track a handicap, and ultimately we will know he’s reached the elite level when he gets his PGA tour card.

So please have a listen to the interview and visit Dan’s website. This project is about so much more than golf. It’s about how far a human can push themselves towards accomplishing incredible things. Dan just recently passed the 3,000 hour mark and his progress so far has been remarkable. Oh yeah, and he’s doing this all on his own dime, so check out the donation page on his website, and help him keep this project going so that next Thursday afternoon when you’re sitting in your cube, you really CAN say “yeah, if I really went all in, I could definitely become a professional _________”

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