I wanted to offer my thoughts in case my line of reasoning resonates with someone and helps them better understand.
Ok, so we need to know if a>0.
i could factor out a from both terms but that may make it complicated, but I ma told that the left hand side is negative, so whatever the value of a, whether positive or negative, I ought to be able to say that a is bigger than a^3, otherwise a^3-a would not be less than 0.
if something is cubed and it is still less than the original something, then something is funky, and not your regular positive whole numbers. it could be fraction, positive or negative, i don't know yet, it could be a negative whole number too i suppose, but i would need to test that. let me do that real quick. clearly, one of the possibilities has to be a positive fraction between 0 and 1 because then it would be say (1/2)^3<1/2. that statement holds. so a can be positive. i just need to check if it can be negative too. what if a is a negative fraction? a=-1/2 say. then -1/8<-1/2. that's not right, so a is not a negative fraction, could it be a negative whole number? instantly, i can see -2 cubed would be -8 is less than -2. so a could be a negative whole or a positive fraction. that doesn't conclusively answer the question. so crossing out statement 1, noting that a could be a positive fraction or negative whole. actually, i am gonna draw it on the number line. ok. circle the 0 to 1 portion and less than -1 portion. moving on.
ok, instantly i can see that 1 has to be greater than a^2 for their difference to be positive. so without worrying about what sign mumbojumbo, i can say a^2<1. well, i have learned from mgmat advanced quant
book that anytime i see a^2<1, i can simply write it as |a|<1 and that i can write it as -1<a<1. so a is between -1 and 1. so a could be positive or negative and doesn't conclusively answer the question. so insufficient.
BUT drawing this statement 2 relation on a number line and comparing it to the earlier number line i drew for statement 1, i can see that there is a common region from 0 to 1. so taken together, i can see that a lies between 0 and 1 which are all positive. and it sufficiently answers the original question, Yes, a>0.
Hope my line of reasoning is not a wrong way that still got the right answer, and I hope it at least makes someone follow and understand the solution to this problem.