This age-old question has arisen again in a slightly different format. Research has shown that what often separates superstars from everyday performers is just practice. Obviously, that makes a pretty good story. Most of the stories on this subject reference the work of Anders Ericsson, who has advanced some of this thought.
But can it be that any of us has the potential to be great, if only we had put in the time? This is basically the question Malcom Gladwell tackles in his latest book called Outliers, which ponders the question of how a person who's an outlier comes to be so. As you can see on the right, it's a book I recently read, and I would definitely recommend. In my opinion, while he does somewhat shortchange the role of genetics in the production of talent, nonetheless, it's a great summary of research in the area. And if it's a topic that you find interesting, there are several recent books that discuss it as well.