What Really Affects Your Ability to Make Money 

This quarter, our recruiting firm received upwards of 33,000 resumes from all levels of sales and marketing job seekers from around the U.S. Nearly every income bracket, education level and age is represented. I’ve spent time wondering why is Sally making 35% more than Bob, even though Bob is just as good an employee.  As a matter of fact, with the right management, Bob could outperform Sally several times over.

However, what about the CEO of Bob and Sally’s company, Mary, who makes over a million a year with stock options that could assist in a more comfortable retirement. I don’t claim to have all the answers in life, but when it comes to the Bob, Sally and Mary riddle, I believe I can provide useful insight. Our recruitment team has separated fact from myth in the hopes of assisting job seekers who truly wish to earn more, but who seem to continually hit disappointing brick wall after brick wall.

What it’s not:

Myth 1:

People who make more money want to be more successful than those who do not earn. 

Reality: As a matter of fact, some of the less monetarily successful people whom I meet have great intentions and ambition, but they lack in crucial areas which we’ll discuss. So, in this case, Mary may or may not have wanted to be CEO more, but that’s not what propelled her to another level when compared with her employees, Bob and Sally.

Myth 2:

People who make more money are more intelligent than those who earn less throughout their career.

Reality: If you factor out the huge outliers such as that 23-year-old tech genius who created the next big app that Facebook buys, natural born IQ is a big equalizer instead of a differentiator.

Myth 3:

People who make higher incomes got a better education in college or are successful because of their network.

Reality: While network is a factor in one’s ability to succeed, it does not work like most think it does.  You can’t network your way to the top. Rather, when you are successful, optimistic and productive, you naturally attract those similar in nature.  Thus, a network comes in handy after a certain level of success is achieved and confidence is gained.  It does not work the other way around. One can attempt to manipulate their way there, but it’s very difficult (not to mention morally bankrupt) because smart, successful people are not easily manipulated so this route almost never works in the beginning and nearly 100% fails in the end.

Myth 4:

An oppressive or supportive boss can hold you back long-term.  Reality: If you are the type that allows others to determine their ability to achieve and earn, from the onset you are not on the right path.

Myth 5:

You need to start with a chosen profession known to be high-earning.  Reality: While some jobs naturally pay more than others, people who gravitate towards a specific career for the money often find themselves earning at the bottom percentage in that vertical. For instance, young people who want to go into banking for the payoff almost never find themselves obtaining true wealth.  In order to make money, a person must be productive; in order to be productive, one must be happy, as optimism has a direct impact on a person’s will power to achieve.

The Big Differentiators Between… The main difference between manager Sally, Marketing Employee Bob, and CEO Mary is more emotional than anything.  One’s ability to succeed is highly contingent upon one’s belief that success is possible.

Here are the big differentiators:

1. Attitude:

While it may not appear so on the surface, in most instances, CEO Mary will possess a “let’s go get ‘em” mentality where manager Sally rarely can conjure up that enthusiasm alone and Bob tends to see reasons why things are not possible.  This prompts the quitting response.

Thus, Mary is worth money to the company because her endurance and ambition are strong enough to get Sally to sign on.  Sally can then in turn relay the tasks that need to be achieved by Bob in order for the plan to come to fruition.

In a meeting, the three may be analyzing the same business prospect, but often their views are different from one another’s.

For those who wish to make more money, it’s imperative to understand that your habits must change before your mind can have the ability to.  New Year’s Resolutions often fail because people try to manipulate their habits with their conscious mind first.

2. Coping Mechanisms:

Everybody is confronted with peril in their lives.  Hurdles are all relative, too.  What seems like a major setback and reason for quitting by Bob is seen entirely different in Mary’s eyes.

Really efficient executives meet hardship with hard work.  Middle managers can often handle the stress, but tight deadlines and situations frequently erode manager Sally’s ability to perform at 100%.  At this point, Bob is more in-tune to his after-work nap and the Italian delivery he is getting later in the evening.

Discipline and resiliency are two immense differentiators, and I would argue that they themselves are coping mechanisms.

3. Physical Health:

While this is not always true, there is a correlation between earnings potential and physical conditioning.  Companies tend to favor applicants who are fit because they are often (though not always and not exclusively) the ones who come into the meeting seeming energized, engaged and focused.

Additionally, the less experienced hiring managers tend to weigh looks much more heavily than they ought to.  Therefore, the gym rats will get a smoother start to their career.

In the end:

It can be argued that it is more one’s heart (gained will power) than it is one’s head that builds earning power.  Here’s the good news:  If you have the concentration ability, inquisitiveness, and intelligence to make it to the end of this article, you have the foundation and propensity for wealth.

By Ken Sundheim

Ken Sundheim is the CEO of KAS Placement, a sales and marketing executive search firm based out of New York City. He is also a writer for Forbes. Follow Ken on Twitter @Ken_Sundheim.