Investor’s Business Daily

People who pursue knowledge and experiences and actively apply what they learn grow and achieve success throughout their lives.

Barry J. Farber knows this first-hand. Farber is founder and president of two Livingston, N.J.-based companies: Farber Training Systems Inc., a sales trainging firm; and Diamond Group, a literary agency.

Farber is also a budding violinist, a martial artist, amateur bricklayer, speaker, radio and television talk-show host, husband, father, learning researcher and author and maintains a Web site at

“Lifelong learning keeps your enthusiasm and confidence strong,” Farber said in an interview. “It also builds your marketability by increasing your knowledge and expertise.”

No matter which way you choose to learn – books, classrooms, mentors, the Internet – “It’s most important to dive in and do (the thing you’re trying to learn) without fear,” said Farber, author of “Dive right In: 101 Powerful Action Steps for Personal Achievement” (Berkley Books, 1999).

“I just watched my son learn to ride a bike, and the way he got on, fell, took his bike to the grass, and fell some more before he finally mastered riding” illustrates an important point about learning, he said.

“Learning is often strongest when it comes through failures, setbacks and adversity.

“As (author) Ray Bradbury said, ‘First you jump off the cliff; then you build your wings on the way down,'” Farber said.

If cliff-jumping isn’t your chosen technique in the quest for lifelong learning, Farber suggests following the less-risky steps indicated by his acronym LEARN:

  • ‘L’ is for levels. “There’s a world of depth – multiple levels – in every new venture,” Farber explained. You’ve got to immerse yourself in a subject, not “just skim across the top of it,” in order to benefit from the learning it offers, he said.
  • ‘E’ is for exploring new skills and hobbies. “I believe in trying many new things, and I’ve found that each new thing I learn enriches other aspects of my life,” Farber said. For instance, practicing martial arts increases his mental alertness and gives him extra physical energy.
  • ‘A’ is for taking action. “We learn from our actions; we act from our learning. One without the other suffers,” he said. “There are people who become known as perpetual students,” Farber wrote in Dive Right In. “They stay in school forever and gather many degrees. But they actually accomplish very little. “There are other people who never get beyond grade school and who become great successes in their lives. . . . They get their education from everything they experience – and they constantly apply those lessons to their lives. They increase the value of their knowIedge exponentially by taking the actions that enable them to keep growing and achieving.”
  • ‘R’ is for repetition. By constantly repeating sports movements, studying facts and figures or practicing your fingering on a musical instrument, for instance, you increase your ability to retain what you’ve Iearned.
  • ‘N’ is for keeping your mind in a neutral state. “Don’t let stereotypes or preconceived notions stop new information from coming in,” Farber said. Keep an open mind and approach a new subject, craft, skil!, instrument or profession as a beginner. “The beginner’s mind, like the mind of a child, is curious, creative, easily amazed, seeking, searching and eager to learn” he pointed out. After you’ve actively engaged in learning, says Farber, take 20-30 minutes to quiet your mind and allow it to soak up and sift through all you’ve taken in. Relaxing clears the mind so learning can take place; it also helps ideas jell, he says.