NARRATOR: Winona, Minnesota. A beautiful town planted next to the Mississippi in the heart of the Midwest. Maybe not the obvious pick for someone with a passion for the mountains, but for rock climber Eric Barnard and his family...there's no better place to call home.
On screen: Eric Barnard, Director of the Outdoor Recreation Center, College of Education, Winona State University
ERIC BERNARD: Fear is natural. If you don't have fear, I think there's something wrong with you. You need to be able to have that rational discussion with yourself about, "Okay, why am I afraid?" Like, "Am I afraid just because I am in a really unnatural, uncomfortable spot?" Or... "Am I afraid because my life is in danger?"
MITCH MATTHEWS: Yeah.
ERIC BERNARD: Like, if we're not willing to go too far, you never know how far you can go.
MITCH MATTHEWS: Okay, okay, alright, now we're moving, okay, alright.
ERIC BERNARD: And, so, climbing is a great metaphor for that. You know you wanna stop halfway up but do you wanna stop just because you're scared and it's in your mind? Or do you wanna stop because you literally are in danger? You're not in danger, that's your chance to break through that barrier.
ERIC BERNARD: There's been plenty of climbs that I've bailed. You know, I've failed on more climbs than I've succeeded on for sure.
MITCH MATTHEWS: Really?
ERIC BERNARD: For sure, oh yeah. There's climbs I've had to go back to two or three times to be able to succeed. I think it's really good to scare yourself a few times a year to kinda shock yourself. And climbs like El Cap when you're sitting at the base of it looking up and you're like... "It's gonna take a week of going up," you know.
MITCH MATTHEWS: On a wall.
ERIC BERNARD: Yeah, it's just like —
MITCH MATTHEWS: No breaks.
ERIC BERNARD: You know you don't wanna continue but so when you go and you fail though and then when you come down and you realize that you failed just because you were afraid, that's a bad feeling.
MITCH MATTHEWS: Yeah.
ERIC BERNARD: And that, that's where that saying fear is temporary but regret is forever is like really true in this sport. Having done these climbs gives me so many tools to be successful in life. You know, there's times when things get hard, I just think to myself like, "I climbed the Dawn Wall" like —
MITCH MATTHEWS: I'm doing this.
ERIC BERNARD: I got this. And it's the same thing. It's like I remember when I was there and it was like all hope was lost, there was no way we're going to do this but we dug deep and we pushed through and you know what, a lot of times we find out— once we push through — things are way easier than what we thought they were.
ERIC BERNARD: Just go one foothold at a time. Like don't think about getting to the top, just kind of stay with the blinders on, just live in this world of like fourteen inches and just stick with that. And that's how we do it when the climbing gets really hard, you know on these big routes.
ERIC BERNARD: Sometimes you are way out there and you're looking at — if I fall I'm gonna free fall a hundred feet before the rope catches me — and if I think about that, I'm not gonna do my best. So I'm just gonna think about right here what I have control over. I don't have control over what's gonna happen in a half an hour, I have control over this right here.
MITCH MATTHEWS: It definitely gets you up the rock but it also gets dreams accomplished too so that's awesome.
ERIC BERNARD: Yeah and you know like people that can create change are the ones who are willing to put their head down and get those small victories and keep pushing it together.
NARRATOR: Eric's story inspires me.
MITCH MATTHEWS: Woo!
NARRATOR :He's taken the lessons he's learned from climbing rock faces and applied them to life.
I think we can learn from that. So when you're going after something big, something important, something outside your comfort zone, at some point fear will come. But when it does, take a breath, focus on what's right in front of you — and push through.
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