I just read Mark's TITIT and his comments about hard work and 10,000 hours (from Malcolm Gladwell's work).

An good read on a similar vain is Matthew Syed's book "Bounce!"  Some very good insights into not just the hard work (10.000 hours) but also the access to the best coaching at the right point in your effort to learn.

Some parallels here with the MT efforts to help us improve.