Can you imagine giving up your career at the age of 30 to take up golf? Not just to take up the sport, but to become a professional golfer, even though you had never played golf in your entire life? Dan McLaughlin, a commercial photographer from Portland, Oregon quit his job and worked on learning how to golf. He had read about the “Ten-thousand-hour rule” in the book “Outliers,” popularized by Malcolm Gladwell. The rule basically states that to become a master in anything, you need to put in at least ten thousand hours of deliberate practice.
Dan’s goal was to qualify for the Professional Golfer’s Association Tour and to inspire people by showing that you did not have to be born with a special talent to become an expert in something. The key to success lies in the amount of focused work that you put into your career, sport, hobby, music, art, school or anything you choose to pursue.
To reach his goal, Dan broke the goal of becoming a professional golfer into a series of stages based on each technique he would have to master. He hired a coach who would give him the immediate feedback he needed to improve rapidly. He monitored his progress, created a support system and constantly challenged himself by working outside his comfort zone.
The first step that Dan took in his quest to become a professional golfer was to spend the first several months learning how to putt. Once he learned the putter, he moved on to the other clubs and worked on each of them one at a time. A year and a half after he started he played his first full round of golf.
Dan tracked his progress in every area of golf such as driving accuracy, tee shots that landed on the fairway, and putts. He put additional practice into those areas that needed the most practice. After about four years of deliberate golf practice, Dan had a handicap of 2.6. In golf the lower the handicap, the better the golfer. Dan had achieved a pretty impressive handicap.
In 2015, Dan had achieved over six thousand hours of deliberate practice but was sidelined by a back injury. He did not reach the level of professional golfer, but through deliberate practice he had become very proficient and inspired many people to reach for their goals.
What are your goals? What can you achieve through deliberate practice?