Jacky Sherman

The Consultant's Consultant

07970 638857


Lies To Children, Lies To Networkers

A half truth is the first step to understanding ...



One of my favourite authors is Terry Pratchett and, in particular, his fantasy of Discworld. He gives us such a wonderful and funny sideways look at our own world ...

If you haven't discovered Terry Pratchett's Discworld series of books, then I recommend them!

If you haven't discovered Terry Pratchett's Discworld series of books, then I recommend them!

copyright: paul kidby (official discworld artist)

It was through his book the Science of Discworld that I first heard about Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen's concept of 'lies to children'; one of those moments when you mentally punch the air and go "Oh yes!" when they get what you mean.

Here's how they put it: a lie to children is a "statement that is false, but nevertheless leads the child's mind towards a more accurate explanation, one that this child will only be able to appreciate if it has been primed with the lie."

"In other words, a half truth is the first
step to understanding!"

The example they give is about a rainbow. We were told as children that when sunlight shines through rain the water droplets split the light into its constituent colours, and wow, we see a rainbow!

And most of us stop at this level and don't consider that it doesn't actually explain a rainbow at all! Until I read the Science of Discworld, I never even speculated about how this didn't explain how the individual raindrops co-operate to form an arc of colour across the sky.

I then knew I had to learn a lot more about the geometry of the earth and the physics of light to get the full explanation. Now, I read this in 1999 and somehow understanding a rainbow has never seemed important enough to do the hard slog of learning all that background mathematics and science.

"There is another lie to children that is important to me!"

Firstly, to stop me from offending my audience, I will re-name this a 'lie to networkers' instead. What is this lie then? It is the initial definition of Givers Gain® a phrase coined by Ivan Misner and embedded in the BNI and Asentiv's own philosophy: "If I give you business, you'll want to give me business". This is a great example of a half truth. The other half of the truth is that, in itself, it doesn't work.

Here are some of the comments I hear all the time that reflect people's perplexity and frustration with this simplistic statement:

  • "I give and give and give and little comes back to me"

  • "I've given him a referral, but he hasn't reciprocated."

  • "I don't know anyone who wants his services"

  • "He said if he gave me a referral he expected a 20% finders fee"

  • " I'll give you £50 Marks and Spencer voucher for every introduction you give me"

  • "I gave her a great contact and she never even followed it up"

  • "I bought his services because someone I trust recommended him and he turned out to be worse than awful, he was downright dangerous"

The list goes on and on. No wonder people question whether it's true. And yet it does work for thousands of individuals around the world.

If we apply the same principles as understanding a rainbow, then we quickly see that we need to understand the basic concept behind relationship 'give and take', to buy into the lie to networkers.

Only then are we ready to understand how to apply the psychology of human relationships, motivation and the mathematics of networks and game theory to apply Givers Gain® more intelligently as we set out for yet another breakfast meeting.

To end this blog I want to reassure you that to win business by referrals does not require you to have a PhD in Psychology or Mathematics. If you're one of the people who experiences the disappointments behind the quotes above, maybe you need to deepen your understanding of Givers Gain®? Here's Ivan Misner explaining it himself:

If you'd like to know more about Givers Gain® and how to make it work for you then do give me a call on 07970 638857 or click here to send me an email and let's see how I can help you.

Until next time ...


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07970 638857