I've really enjoyed reading through this thread - thanks s much for starting it MM. Although I don't read a huge amount of non-fiction that isn't directly related to maths in some way, I admit that I really enjoyed both Richard Gladwell's book and Richard Wiseman's 59 seconds (which is brilliant if more concerned with happiness). But can I recommend another book that has this big idea as its entire central theme? It is called 'BOUNCE' by Matthew Syed, and I was hooked from beginning to end.Syed is a perfect mix of sports writer and former international sportsman so speaks and writes with authority. My favourite Christmas present of 2010, though I confess I had never heard of him! In essence Syed explains that the myth has been built up over years but the evidence, whenever it is traceable, points overwhelmingly to the number of hours of effective practice that precedes the success. For the record, it seems to be about 10000 hours to attain excellence. The challenging part for me is to try and define 'effective' now!