Your Stairway To Success In 5 Essential Steps

I’ve lived many lifetimes in my 76 years on the planet, and I’m lucky enough to have found success in multiple arenas of life—business, creative, family, and more. What’s my secret? Well, I’m not sure there is only one true secret to success, but there is a lot of advice that can be of value to anyone starting out (or re-starting out) on a career or business path. To me, there are 5 fundamental steps you must take in order to have success in your own life and work. I call them Confidence, Home, Education, Assertiveness, and Passion—or CHEAP for short:

1. Confidence.

With confidence you can accomplish just about anything. But when you’re first starting out, you face a “chicken-egg” challenge. How can you have authentic confidence before you have achieved success?  And how can you achieve success without possessing confidence? I have two suggestions.  First, find a way to begin building success, in whatever arena you can find.  Join a Toastmasters Club to practice public speaking. Take dance lessons. Play softball. Success, in no matter what area of your life, is contagious. Second, act “as if.” If you are interviewing for a job, or trying to close a sale, you should radiate confidence.  Few people ever landed a date by starting with, “I don’t suppose you’d like to go out with me.”

2. Home.

In your daily life you have two homes: one where you live and the other where you work. It’s crucial for your long-term success that both of these environments be emotionally supportive. Your physical home, and the relationships with the people who share it with you, must be an oasis of tranquility and support. My favorite part of any vacation is when I return home and walk into my bedroom. Similarly, your “home” at work must also be supportive. During a job interview, I recommend that you always ask your potential future coworkers what it’s like to work there.  Are they treated fairly and with respect?

3. Education.

I’m not necessarily talking about a college degree. Google is reported to be “increasingly ready to hire people with no college degrees.” But you need to bring value and knowledge and know-how. When Abraham Lincoln decided to become a lawyer he taught himself law by reading every law book he could get his hands on.  Lincoln said about his learning style, “I studied with nobody.” Study with nobody, study with somebody, or study with everybody, but follow your curiosity to learn as much as you possibly can.

4. Assertiveness.

The three A’s of Assertiveness are Ask for yourself, be Authentic when you do, and make yourself as Attractive as you can. You’ll never win a new opportunity unless you ask. That’s the way the world works. So muster up the courage and ask for what you want. When you do ask, make sure you’re authentic. Be honest and sincere about what you want and why you want it. Finally, be attractive. . . and I don’t mean in a supermodel kind of way. Attractiveness is a combination of how you present yourself physically and how you “are” personally. Let the other person know that you care about them, about the opportunity, and that you appreciate their time and their help.

5. Passion.

Last, but definitely not least is passion. As Georg Hegel wrote, “Nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion.” Decide out what you’re most passionate about and pursue it. My greatest passion is to learn and to help others in any way I can. That’s gives my life and work extra meaning and purpose. As Ludwig van Beethoven said, “I want to seize fate by the throat. Find your passion, seize it, and follow it.”

The stairway to success is challenging, but it is not too long or too steep for you to complete. Put these five together and success will be yours. And it’s CHEAP.

Alan C. Fox is the president of ACF Property Management, Inc, and The New York Times bestselling author of PEOPLE TOOLS, a self-help series that offers powerful advice on careers, relationships, and self-improvement learned from his incredibly successful and vibrant 76-years of life. He has university degrees in accounting, law, education, and professional writing. He was employed as a Tax Supervisor for a national CPA firm, established his own law firm, then founded a commercial real estate company in 1968 that now owns over $1.5 billion dollars in real estate. Alan has recently been featured on The Meredith Vieira and Steve Harvey shows. Discover more about Alan/PEOPLE TOOLS at

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