Robert Kegan's In Over Our Heads so was delighted when Jay Hughes referred to the book in yesterday morning's keynote address. For that and other reasons, I appreciated the talk enough to go through the somewhat tedious task of typing up my notes so you too can perhaps benefit from his thoughts. His presentation began the first whole day at the third annual Purposeful Planning Institute Rendezvous and was titled "Will the Four Noble Professions Thrive? Survive? or Regenerate? And What Will the Families They Serve Face in the Next Twenty Years." (His bio is about halfway down here.)
Here are most of my notes from the keynote address.
Jay began by asking us to imagine ourselves as secular priests, living with the virtue of magnanimity. He quoted Robert Frost's poem "The Road Not Taken" about two roads diverging in a wood and explained that it related to our professional journey.
In the 60s when he began the practice of law at Coudert Brothers, partners did not leave the firm and clients were also with the firm for life, which is not the current state of the profession. The four noble professions have changed since then.
He said that some professionals are pilgrims today and that being one necessarily brings with it loneliness: "If you are not lonely, you are not a pilgrim." He clarified that this is an existential loneliness. And he asked, "Who can we walk with?"
To partly answer his question, he described the pilgrims in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales who tell each other their stories as they travel.
The four noble professions according to Hughes are ministry, medicine, high academia, and law.* You can read his description of each here about three-fourths of the way down. He believes any functioning community needs all four of these roles.
Briefly, the function of medicine is to ease suffering and increase the physical and mental health of the