Philanthropy. Giving. Altruism. Networking. It's what we do, it's who we are; we are all heroes in our own minds, and that's good. But...if we're Luke Skywalker, does that also mean our dad is Darth Vader?

That's why I've got to write about the Treacherous Dichotomy. It's the networker's Jabberwock, the Dark Shadow that our greatest ambitions cast upon our souls at day's end - and it can throw a monkey wrench into your ability to grow your business.

Beware the Jabberwock, my son! / The jaws that bite, the claws that catch! /
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun / The frumious Bandersnatch! - Lewis Carroll

Most of us live with an assumption: there is a fundamental contradiction between self-interest and altruism. You may be acting for others' benefit, or for your own - but not both at once.

If you accept the Treacherous Dichotomy, then every time you pick up the phone to talk with a prospect, your subconscious has to conclude either:

a) I am greedy, manipulative, and focused purely on my own personal gain at this poor slob's expense; or,

b) I am big-hearted, generous, on a mission to help this person - and must studiously avoid any hint of a result that could actually improve my own lot in life.

Has the frumious shadow of this conflict never graced your thoughts? (Think loud, labored breathing and James Earl Jones: "Search your heart: you know it to be true...")

So: before you next climb onto the phone, take an attitude check, and remind yourself:

In network marketing, there is no distinction between effective self-interest and effective altruism. In the pursuit of this noble mission, these dualistic interests both disappear; in their place is simply focused purpose: making sure you do your best to let the people you talk with discover the possibilities that are here for them. And they won't do this on their own: they're counting on you. Keep these two facts in mind on your next phone call:

1) Your success does not depend on this particular person saying "Yes"...

To be successful, you need distributors. But you don't need this particular person to be one of them. So relax. Go for clarity: find out if they are interested, or they're not.

2) ...but their getting the benefits you're offering does.

You also know the phenomenal benefits this particular person stands to gain from what you are offering. And if you don't give them an opportunity to find out for themselves - a really good opportunity, the best you can possibly give - you also know what they stand to lose.

So, breathe; banish the Treacherous Dichotomy - and give it your best shot. There's not a lot riding on the outcome of this call for you - but there could be for them.

JOHN DAVID MANN is Editor of Networking Times.