Deep down inside, everyone knows how to succeed but few are willing to make the effort because it requires work...hard work, at that. Personally, when I used to search for "the secret to success" by buying lots of self-help books, I was getting nowhere. I actually believed that the more self-help books that I bought and read, the greater my chances were for success but I was sadly mistaken.
From my experience, and the experience of others that I've saw, it wasn't until one quits searching for the secret but set a definite purpose, truly desire it's attainment and roll up their sleeves and get busy that they succeed. You already know what you're supposed to be doing to get ahead. The search for the secret is nothing more than a method of procrastinating and lacking faith/belief in one's self. Due to that lack of belief, the person believes that there has to be a shortcut that others utilize to succeed, but that's fiction.
Therefore, stop searching for secrets because there aren't any. The stuff you read in the self-help books are things that you already know (although it doesn't hurt to be reminded of these things). Just think back to any goal that you've achieved in your life before ever reading a self-help book. I can guarantee you that you unconsciously put to use the principles described in those books...thereby proving that you already know what to do in order to succeed -- it's just a matter of DOING IT.