Human potential: nothing more than a state of mind

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Alex Echols
  • 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
A Vietnam prisoner of war, now motivational speaker, spoke to a group of Tyndall Airmen Feb. 7 in the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group auditorium.

During his speech, Col. Edward Hubbard, United States Air Force retired, shared the story of his capture and what life was like living in captivity, hoping to teach his audience a new way of thinking.

"I like to say, human potential is nothing more than a state of mind," said Hubbard. "It's controlled by two things: what you think you can do and how hard you are willing to work to do it. I learned that in captivity, and I have used it for the past 40 years to guide my life."

After his plane was shot down, Hubbard lived in captivity for 2,420 days from 1966 to 1973. He was beaten, starved and stripped of everything during his imprisonment in North Vietnam.

To survive, Hubbard and the other POWs had to use their minds to overcome their problems.

"In prison, we had no resources, period," said Hubbard. "We found out solving problems in prison is not optional. You have no choice, or you're going to die."

After his release and return to the Air Force, Hubbard found an additional mission. He used the harrowing experience gained in prison to create a new way of thinking and improve the productivity of those around him.

"Stop and think," said Hubbard. "Where do you want to be tomorrow? Now, figure out how to get there. Don't wait for someone to tell you how to do it, and never let anyone tell you what you can't do, because they don't know what you're capable of. Personal pride in what you can do is the greatest resource you'll ever have. If you have a sufficient amount there are no limits in your world."

Once retired from the Air Force, Hubbard continued his mission by speaking publicly. He has made appearance in 16 countries visiting and inspiring more than 4 million people.

After his speech, Hubbard signed copies of his book and spoke with the inspired members of Team Tyndall.

"Rather than simply reciting his age-old memories, he brought them to our level, being careful to extract key lessons relevant to both the oldest veteran and youngest airman," said 1st Lt. Kenneth Suen, 83rd Fighter Weapons Squadron space missile analyst. "By weaving the words into such powerful images, everyone who attended truly did relive his experience, and it is in experience not books that we learn the intangibles that only experience can teach. I feel extremely blessed to have been able to attend his presentation!"

Since he began speaking publicly, Hubbard has spoken to more than 4 million people in 16 countries.

"I get up wildly excited about my work every day, because I know I have the opportunity to go out and change somebody else's life and make it better," said Hubbard.