The autumn leaves are falling like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are always two cups at my table.

T’ang Dynasty poem

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Monday, February 15, 2016

Who Needs Fiction: Seriously Applying the 10,000 Hour Theory

From time to time there have been posts here regarding the 10,000 hour theory, famously explained by Malcolm Gladwell.

Basically, something in common among masters of virtually anything is that they have logged at least 10,000 hours of deliberate practice.There is far more to it than that, but there you have it in a nutshell.

Once that was published, there was a rush among amateurs of every endeavor to begin logging hours like mad, hoping to achieve mastery through the simple accumulation of training time. 

Training more helps, but it isn't everything.

In a book by the authors of Freakonomics, "When to Rob a Bank," they introduced Dan.

Dan decided that he wanted to become a professional golfer, never having golfed seriously before. He quit his job and devoted himself to trainng under a golf pro, according to the 10,000 hour plan. 

His progress has been remarkable. Below is an excerpt from his website. The home page from his website is here.

It’s a project in transformation. An experiment in potential and possibilities. Through 10,000 hours of “deliberate practice,” Dan, who currently has minimal golf experience, plans on becoming a professional golfer. But the plan isn’t really about golf: through this process, Dan hopes to prove to himself and others that it’s never too late to start a new pursuit in life.  For a detailed description of the project, please read this blog post:


Dan is an average man by most standards. When The Dan Plan began, he was a 30-year-old commercial photographer with no previous experience as a competitive athlete, nor was he in particularly good physical condition. Dan is slightly under average height and weight, had never played a full 18 holes of golf, and had only been to a driving range a handful of times. He was not even sure if he was a left-or right-handed golfer. Dan currently resides in Portland, Oregon.


Through his journey Dan hopes to inspire others to start exploring the possibilities life affords them. Though his isn’t an easy endeavor and is quite possibly impossible, if it inspires even one person to quit their day job and find happiness in their own plan, then the Dan Plan is a success.

On April 5th, 2010, Dan quit his day job as a commercial photographer and began The Dan Plan. Having never played 18 holes of golf in his life, Dan started the 10,000 hour journey with just a putter.  After five months of putting, he received his second club, a pitching wedge. Just before the first anniversary of The Dan Plan dan took his first full-swing lesson.

 After 18 months he swung a driver for the first time.  On December 28, 2011 he played his first full round with a full set of clubs.  Since then it has been off to the races.
Logging in 30-plus hours a week he will hit the 10,000 hour milestone by December 2016. During this time, Dan plans to develop his skills through deliberate practice, eventually winning amateur events and obtaining his PGA Tour card through a successful appearance in the PGA Tour’s Qualifying School, or “Q-School”.


Talent has little to do with success. According to research conducted by Dr. K. Anders Ericsson, Professor of Psychology at Florida State University, “Elite performers engage in ‘deliberate practice’–an effortful activity designed to improve target performance.” Dr. Ericsson’s studies, made popular through Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers and Geoff Colvin’s Talent is Overrated, have found that in order to excel in a field, roughly 10,000 hours of “stretching yourself beyond what you can currently do” is required. “I think you’re the right astronaut for this mission,” Dr. Ericsson said about The Dan Plan.

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