In the late 1950s, Judge Elbert Tuttle delivered a commencement address at Emory University in which he spelled out his concept of the professional.
The professional man is in essence one who provides service. But the service he renders is something more than that of the laborer, even the skilled laborer. It is a service that wells up from the entire complex of his personality. True, some specialized and highly developed techniques may be included, but their mode of expression is given its deepest meaning by the personality of the practitioner. In a very real sense his professional service cannot be separate from his personal being. He has no goods to sell, no land to till. His only asset is himself. It turns out that there is no right price for service, for what is a share of a man worth? If he does not contain the quality of integrity, he is worthless. If he does, he is priceless. The value is either nothing or it is infinite.
So do not try to set a price on yourselves. Do not measure out your professional services on an apothecaries’ scale and say, “Only this for so much.” Do not debase yourselves by equating your souls to what they will bring in the market. Do not be a miser, hoarding your talents and abilities and knowledge, either among yourselves or in your dealings with your clients….
Rather be reckless and spendthrift, pouring out your talent to all to whom it can be of service! Throw it away, waste it, and in the spending it will be increased. Do not keep a watchful eye lest you slip, and give away a little bit of what you might have sold. Do not censor your thoughts to gain a wide audience. Like love, talent is only useful in its expenditure, and it is never exhausted. Certain it is that man must eat; so set what price you must on your service. But never confuse the performance, which is great, with the compensation, be it money, power, or fame, which is trivial.
… The job is there, you will see it, and your strength is such, as you graduate…that you need not consider what the task will cost you. It is not enough that you do your duty. The richness of life lies in the performance which is above and beyond the call of duty.
NOTE: Elbert F. Tuttle, Heroism in War and Peace, 13 Emory U.Q. 129, 138-59 (1957).