Network marketing is certainly a teaching business, but it is even more a learning business, and the learning is like the way Aslan describes the world in : each successive world of learning is larger on the inside than it is on the outside.

1. THE PRODUCT. First thing you learn about (usually) is the product or service and company, what people often refer to as The Story. Every company has its Story. It might be about the founders, the exotic ingredient, the breakthrough science or unique function…whatever it is, it is the magnetic core of your business and it generates a field of charisma, mystique and uniqueness. There is lots to learn here—salient points about the marketplace, timing and commercial context. But sooner or later, you discover there is a core within this core:

2. THE BUSINESS. Sooner or later you learn the Product Paradox: while your business is all about the product, it’s really not about the product. Yes, people are drawn to your product like iron filings to a magnet—but those who will build your business are ultimately drawn by time freedom, lifestyle freedom, long-term security. Your product may heal their joints or skin; your business offering can heal their family schedule, retirement plans, maybe even their dreams. Lots more to learn: the compensation plan, economic stats on society and home-based business, and more.

3. THE PROCESS. The majority of distributors never penetrate this far: beyond the numbers and concepts, the dynamics of how it actually works. How to conduct yourself on a three-way call; why it pays to edify your upline and your downline; this is the stuff of how the business works—from the inside. You cannot learn this from CDs; genuine apprenticeship takes over.

4. PEOPLE. Get deep into the nitty gritty of enrolling, training, partnershipping and teamworking, and you start to grasp the inner workings of the business. Now you’re listening not because you learned you’re supposed to, but because you want to know. Learning how to draw and hold boundaries (like a parent!), to support someone without making him codependent (like a spouse!), or how to tell the truth with compassion when you see someone making excuses (like a best friend!). This is where you genuinely learn network marketing.

5. YOURSELF. Eventually you discover something startling: that objection you keep getting? The excuse you keep hearing? They’re echoes of your own state of mind. That downline member who drives you crazy? It’s because he pushes your buttons…and the real issue may be the buttons, not the finger doing the poking.

It’s been said that you cannot grow your income any larger than you grow yourself. The most powerful curriculum for a networker is one the Delphic oracle taught three millennia ago: gnôthi sauton—Know Thyself.

JOHN DAVID MANN is Editor in Chief of Networking Times.