"Success is that old ABC: Ability, Breaks and Courage” has been credited to American businessman and architect Charles Luckman (1909-1999). It’s not certain in what form or when Luckman originally said it.
“Success, he declared, is ‘that old ABC—ability, breaks and courage’” was cited in print in 1955. “A is for ability, B is for breaks and C is for courage” was cited in 1962.
Wikipedia: Charles Luckman
Charles Luckman (May 16, 1909, Kansas City–January 26, 1999, Los Angeles) was a businessman and an American architect, famous as the “Boy Wonder of American Business” when he was named president of the Pepsodent toothpaste company in 1939 at the age of 30. Through acquisition, he later became president of Lever Brothers.
19 September 1955, Oakland (CA) Tribune, “Doing the Things You Like Chief Formula for Happiness” by Mary Margaret McBride, pg. 15, col. 1:
One answer was propounded a while ago by Charles Luckman, who as a very young man was made head of a large soap manufacturing company in the East and later went to the Pacific Coast to start an entirely new career as partner in an architectural firm.
Success, he declared, is “that old ABC—ability, breaks and courage.”
12 January 1962, Jefferson City (MO) Post Tribune, “Says Versatile Charles Luckman: Ability, Breaks, Courage Key To Success in Any Business,” Radio and TV Section, pg. 6, col. 3:
LOS ANGELES (AP) --
ABC’s of Success
Luckman says there are the ABC’s of success.
“A is for ability, B is for breaks and C is for courage. Without any one of these, no man can be continuously, truly successful,” he says.
13 January 1965, The Robesonian (Lumberton, NC), “Boyling Point” by Hal Boyle (AP), pg. 12, col. 7:
Quotable notables: “Success is that old ABC—Ability, Breaks and Courage”—architect Charles Luckman.
By Damon Stetson
New York, NY: Macmillan
Asked to explain his success in two different careers, Mr. Luckman said, “You can’t altogether rationalize it. All I can do is to say that those old ABC’s of ability, breaks and courage seem to be necessary to get ahead. You’ve got to have the ability to start with. Then you’ve got to get the breaks — and I got plenty of them. Finally, you’ve got to have the courage to take advantage of the breaks.”
The Comic Encyclopedia:
A Library of the Literature and History of Humor Containing Thousands of Gags, Sayings, and Stories
By Evan Esar
Garden City, NY: Doubleday
The ABC of success: Ability, Breaks, Courage.
The 2500 Greatest Business Quotes from Aristotle to DeLorean
By Robert Warren Kent
New York, NY: Pocket Books
Success is that old ABC — ability, breaks and courage.
Charles Luckman (1909- )