Book Review (Book 5) - The Cloud of Unknowing

Book Review (Book 5) - The Cloud of Unknowing

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This is a continuation of the books I challenged myself to read to help my career - one a month, for year. You can read my first book review here. The book I chose for October 2011 was: The Cloud of Unknowing, Anonymous: The role of faith in life. Once again, this is out of order, but the book came in from a hold at the library so I’ll do this one now.

Why I chose this Book:

This book is probably the most far afield for many of my readers – some folks don’t hold a faith, others have faiths that are different from mine. That’s fine – I think this is still an intriguing read.

However this is a religious work – if you’re not into that sort of thing, it’s completely OK. As I’ve mentioned early-on, a book list for your career can include many kinds of books. Faith is such a part of my life that I find it impossible to separate from my day-to-day efforts. To that end, a little about this book is in order.

The book was written in the 14th century by an unknown, anonymous author, probably a Carthusian monk in Europe. It’s a work involving the deep thoughts around the intersection of intellection over contemplation. Contemplation is what ancient Catholics called meditation, or focus. It’s a really deep work involving philosophical history, specifically in the Christian tradition. Even as old and philosophical as it is, many contemporary writers, singers (Like Leonard Cohen) and others have referenced it, used it words, or developed entire works around it.

What I learned:

So what did I learn? Actually quite a bit, specifically on the role in contemplation in life. As a technologist, I tend to stay incredibly busy and the temptation is always to be very scattered. But lack of focus is often the enemy of getting things done correctly. Focusing on what really matters and being in the moment is a powerful tool in professional life. It has taught me that now, more than ever, I need to decide what I will not give a lot

As I mentioned, this is a religious work – it has far more value to me there than in the pure business sense, although I find those two linked irrevocably. The way I treat others in both personal and business relationships is my character – which I strive to improve every day.

I highly recommend you read something that is internal like this in your career development. Money, success and fame are not all that there is – and those things are not separated from who you are as a person.

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