An interesting essay in the New York Times by David Brooks summarizing research which I have been seeing as well that lays an increasing weight of accomplishment on the simple act of practice and repetition. I instinctively agree that serendipity and hard work are major contributors (along with personal attributes) to any particular outcome. Reading more creates better readers.
I particularly liked Brooks' comment that "Public discussion is smitten by genetics and what we're "hard-wired" to do. And it's true that genes place a leash on our capacities. But the brain is also phenomenally plastic. We construct ourselves through behavior. As Coyle observes, it's not who you are, it's what you do."