I have seen both sides of this argument. There is the side that tells us to work smart, use the right tools, focus our energies and eventually achieve greatness.
Example1: Flickr-cofounder Caterina Fake who has started a new site Hunch.com says it out that working hard is overrated. Her reasons:
I've seen a lot of hard working entrepreneurs fail, and I've come to the conclusion that working hard, while never a bad thing, is not really the magic thing that leads to great inventions or successful outcomes.
...We agreed that a lot of what we then considered "working hard" was actually "freaking out".
Example 2: The 4-Hour Workweek and Timothy Ferriss
Now this guy is a freak of nature and so basically you just cannot use his example to become a slacker 2.0. Someday, another smart writer will figure out a 2 hour workweek, become a master of 10 different weird things, learn to speak 21 languages, no less, get himself mentioned in the big newspapers and it is Tim Ferris bye-bye.
On the other side of the spectrum of work is the 10000 hours rule, made famous by Malcolm Gladwell in his book on Genius "Outliers". Basically, the 10,000 rule says that it takes 10,000 hours of practice and refining before we become experts at something.
As Hugh Mcloed said, "Put the hours in".
There is just no shortcut to success, unless you are cunning enough to make your millions by short-circuiting the process. I also believe in Edison's dictum about genius being 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. In case of Catarina's example, she herself says that she and her partner worked very hard to make Flickr a success.
Moral of the story: Do whatever works for you. There are no hard and fast rules to success.. And, for God's sake, stop reading those self-help books with fancy titles.