I trace my commitment to a goal-oriented life to the early autumn of 1950, soon after the beginning of my senior year at Jordan High School in Sandy , Utah . Being 17 years of age at the time, and in my 12th year of formal schooling, I had already been exposed to the concept of setting and achieving goals as I aimed toward achieving high grades in my schooling, as I planned each year my summer work, and as I set specific targets of achievements in my church and scouting activities. To that time, however, the goals I had set and worked toward achieving were short range, unstructured, and somewhat limited in their scope. Also, I had not committed any of my goals to writing. Rather, I had simply formulated these short term goals in my mind, then worked to achieve them as my interest, time, and convenience allowed.
Then, on an October day in the autumn of 1950, at the conclusion of a class session on American Problems, the teacher, Mr. Phil F. Goldbranson, called me aside as I was leaving the classroom. Mr. Goldbranson and I already knew each other well, for in addition to teaching this course in American Problems, he also served as the coach for the high school interscholastic debate team, a team on which I had participated since my junior year in high school.
On the occasion referred above, Mr. Goldbranson, who was perhaps two or three inches shorter than I, placed his hand upon my shoulder, looked up at me with his twinkling, sensitive eyes, and said to me, "Rod, I want to specially commend you for your excellent responses in class today. I have been observing you closely during the past year and want you to know that I believe that you can accomplish anything you want to in life if you will but decide what it is you would like to achieve."
Knowing the reputation that Mr. Goldbranson had among my fellow students throughout the high school as being a thoughtful, sensitive, and dedicated teacher, I sensed at the time that I was not the first student, nor the last student, to whom Mr. Goldbranson had challenged, or would challenge, with the world- moving, soul-motivating words, "I believe th