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Courage Is Calling Book Summary, Review, Notes

Ryan Holiday’s book, Courage Is Calling, is a self-help book that explains what true courage is and motivates everyone to develop it. With this book, you’ll learn how to transform your fear into courage to become a hero. It’s a book full of stories about historical figures who showed courage, resilience, and commitment during challenging times such as wars, battles against discrimination, and struggle for equality for men and women.

Book Title: Courage Is Calling: Fortune Favors the Brave
Author: Ryan Holiday
Date of Reading:  December 2021
Rating: 9/10

Table of Contents

What Is Being Said In Detail:


Courage Is Calling explores what lies beneath fear, cowardice, courage, and finally heroic behavior. The main purpose of this book is to inspire people facing adversity to deal with their fears and become heroes. This is a history of courage through time, with a call to arms for every one of us.

You’ll find Frank Serpico, Frederick Douglas, and Peter Thiel on the list of courageous men and women who made history. You learn courage by reading stories about Charles De Gaulle, Florence Nightingale, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It’s also full of inspiring stories about ancient heroes, like Helvidius Priscus, a Roman senator who fought Vespasian to the death. Among the heroes are also Frank Serpico, a former NY detective who exposed police corruption, and Frederick Douglass, an anti-slavery activist who ended slavery inspired by Nelly’s struggle.

Courage is Calling is a book full of historical facts and examples that are very easy to read thanks to short chapters that are grouped into three parts.


The Four Virtues


Books in this series explore the four universal virtues embraced by Christianity and much of Western philosophy, but also cherished by Buddhism, Hinduism, and just about every other religion:

  • Courage.
  • Temperance.
  • Justice.
  • Wisdom.

These four books work together to help you decide how to live this life.


Part I: Fear


This part of the book examines how fear works and how it can be defeated. It explores the roots of fear, self-limiting beliefs, the problem of public judgment, and uncertainty as well as many other facets of stepping out on your own.

We are mostly afraid of attracting attention and being judged by others. Perhaps this is due to a lack of agency, a fear of the unknown, or even a desperate desire to find certainty in the chaos of life. To grow, we have to take a risk, and that’s what we fear most. To overcome fear, we need to define what we are afraid of logically. Once we realize what can happen in the worst-case scenario, we realize that there aren’t as many obstacles as we thought. The chapters in this part are: 

  • The Call We Fear . . .
  • The Important Thing Is to Not Be Afraid
  • We Defeat Fear with Logic
  • This Is the Enemy
  • There Are Always More Before They Are Counted
  • But What If?
  • Don’t Be Deterred by Difficulties
  • Focus on What’s in Front of You
  • Never Question Another Man’s Courage
  • Agency Is an Effective Truth
  • We Are Afraid to Believe
  • Never Let Them Intimidate You
  • All Growth Is a Leap
  • Don’t Fear Decisions
  • You Can’t Put Your Safety First
  • Fear Is Showing You Something
  • The Scariest Thing To Be Is Yourself
  • Life Happens in Public. Get Used to It.
  • Which Tradition Will You Choose?
  • You Can’t Be Afraid to Ask
  • When We Rise Above . . .


Part II: Courage


This part of the book stresses the essentials of early preparation, bold action, fearless decisions, justification of violence at times, and asking for help when necessary. Developing courage means making it a way of life because every battle prepares us for the next. We can’t avoid risk and bad luck, so being courageous means recognizing and evaluating them and doing what you have to do no matter what happens. In case you fail, get back up even if you have to ask for help to do it. The chapters in this part are: 

  • The Call We Answer . . .
  • The World Wants to Know
  • If Not You, Then Who?
  • Preparation Makes You Brave
  • Just Start Somewhere. Just Do Something.
  • Go!
  • Speak Truth to Power
  • Be the Decider
  • It’s Good to Be “Difficult”
  • Just a Few Seconds of Courage
  • Make It a Habit
  • Seize the Offensive
  • Stand Your Ground
  • Courage Is Contagious
  • You Have to Own It
  • You Can Always Resist
  • Fortune Favors the Bold
  • The Courage to Commit
  • Love Thy Neighbor
  • Bold Is Not Rash
  • Agency Is Taken, Not Given
  • When Violence Is the Answer
  • To Get Up and Leave
  • Do Your Job
  • You Can Beat the Odds
  • Make Them Proud
  • When We Rise Above Ourselves . . .


Part III: The Heroic


The book concludes with a section on heroics. This part focuses on being generous, selfless, offering sacrifices, and taking risks for others. To be courageous is to follow your call, to be heroic is to go beyond it. In fact, true heroism lacks the ego, since heroes are not always rewarded or praised for their efforts, but instead ignored, blamed, or executed. The chapters in this part are: 

  • Going Beyond the Call . . .
  • The Cause Makes All
  • The Braver Thing Is Not to Fight
  • You Must Go Through the Wilderness
  • The Selflessness of Love
  • Make People Bigger
  • No Time for Hesitating
  • We Make Our Own Luck
  • Inspire Through Fearlessness
  • What Are You Willing to Pay?
  • The Big Why
  • To Go Back to the Valley
  • Silence Is Violence
  • The Audacity of Hope
  • You Must Burn the White Flag
  • No One Is Unbreakable
  • Courage Is Virtue. Virtue Is Courage.


Most Important Keywords, Sentences, Quotes:


The Four Virtues


“It’s a daily challenge, one we face not once but constantly, repeatedly. Will we be selfish or selfless? Brave or afraid? Strong or weak? Wise or stupid? Will we cultivate a good habit or a bad one? Courage or cowardice? The bliss of ignorance or the challenge of a new idea?”

“Stay the same . . . or grow? The easy way or the right way?”




[…] a decline in courage has been considered the first symptom of the end?” – Alexander Solzhenitsyn

“To each, there comes in their lifetime a special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique to them and fitted to their talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds them unprepared or unqualified for that which could have been their finest hour.” – Winston Churchill

Courage calls each of us differently, at different times, in different forms. But in every case it is, as they say, coming from inside the house.

First, we are called to rise above our fear and cowardice. Next, we are called to bravery, over the elements, over the odds, over our limitations. Finally, we are called to heroism, perhaps for only just a single magnificent moment, when we are called to do something for someone other than ourselves.

In an ugly world, courage is beautiful. It allows beautiful things to exist. Who says it has to be so rare?


Part I: Fear


The brave are not without fear—no human is—rather, it’s their ability to rise above it and master it that makes them so remarkable.


The Call We Fear . . .


Each of us has had some version of this conversation, when an adult does us the cruel injustice—whatever their intentions—of puncturing our little bubble. They think they are preparing us for the future, when really they’re just foisting upon us their own fears, their own limitations.

What we are to do in this life comes from somewhere beyond us; it’s bigger than us. We are each called to be something. We are selected. We are chosen . . . but will we choose to accept this? Or will we run away? That is our call.

There is nothing worth doing that is not scary. There is no one who has achieved greatness without wrestling with their own doubts, anxieties, limitations, and demons.


The Important Thing Is to Not Be Afraid


It’s an essential distinction. A scare is a temporary rush of a feeling. That can be forgiven. Fear is a state of being, and to allow it to rule is a disgrace. One helps you—makes you alert, wakes you up, informs you of danger. The other drags you down, weakens you, even paralyzes you.


Ryan Holiday Quote: “In an ugly world, courage is beautiful. It allows beautiful things to exist. Who says it has to be so rare?”


In an uncertain world, in a time of vexing, complicated problems, fear is a liability. Fear holds you back. It’s okay to be scared. Who wouldn’t be? It’s not okay to let that stop you.


We Defeat Fear with Logic


It has been said that leaders are dealers in hope, but in a more practical sense, they are also slayers of fear.

What we need to do is explore our impressions—for ourselves, for others. We must break them down logically, […]. Go to the root of it. Understand it. Explain it.

Life is still unpredictable. There is so much we don’t know. Of course we’re easily alarmed. Of course we’re at the whim of our fears and doubts. The only way through is to attack that fear. Logically. Clearly. Empathetically.


This Is the Enemy


We care so much about what other people think, we’re afraid of them even when we wouldn’t be around to hear it.

They’d [people] rather go along with something that will tarnish their legacy than raise their voice ever so slightly and risk standing alone or apart for even ten minutes.

You can’t let fear rule. […] there has never, ever been a time when the average opinion of faceless, unaccountable strangers should be valued above our own considered judgment.


There Are Always More Before They Are Counted


The obstacles, the enemies, the critics—they are not as numerous as you think. It’s an illusion they want you to believe.

A little awareness, a little empathy, it doesn’t make us soft. It gives us confidence. Now we see what’s really there. Now everyone else is more scared than we are.


But What If?


What we fear, we do not know.

Not exactly, anyway.

It looms large but distant in the future. […] But what, where, when, how, who? That we cannot answer, because we haven’t actually looked into it. We haven’t actually defined what so worries us.

We need also to cultivate the courage to think about all the things that could happen, the things that are unpleasant to think about, the unusual, the unexpected, the unlikely.

It’s not just a matter of reducing our anxiety about exaggerated uncertainties, it’s also about finding certainty in the unknowns […].

Vague fear is sufficient to deter us; the more it is explored, the less power it has over us.


Don’t Be Deterred by Difficulties


Don’t worry about whether things will be hard. Because they will be.Instead, focus on the fact that these things will help you. This is why you needn’t fear them.

Our bruises and scars become armour. Our struggles become experience. They make us better. They prepared us for this moment, just as this moment will prepare us for one that lies ahead. They are the flavouring that makes victory taste so sweet.

If it were easy, everyone would do it. If everyone did it, how valuable would it be? The whole point is that it’s hard. The risk is a feature, not a bug.

How could you possibly trust yourself if you had not been through harder things than this? How could you possibly believe that you might be able to survive this if you had not survived other things before?

You think it’d be better if things were easy. You wish you didn’t have to take this risk. If only the leap didn’t look so damn dangerous. That’s just the fear talking. It’s good that it’s hard. It deters the cowards and it intrigues the courageous.


Focus on What’s in Front of You


It’s when we imagine everything, when we catastrophize endlessly, that we are miserable and most afraid. When we focus on what we have to carry and do? We are too busy to worry, too busy working. There is plenty for you here right now.

We can’t forget that all the energy we spend fearing that we’ll make it worse is energy not spent making it better.


Never Question Another Man’s Courage


We are not privy to the full extent of the struggle and the burden under which others have broken. We should try not to fault them, for we can never truly appreciate their experience.

This battle against fear is a full-time job. None of us have it handled so well that we can afford to spend much time monitoring how others are doing with theirs—then or now. The best we can try to do is learn from our peers, past and present, and apply their lessons to our own life.

If we are going to indict anyone for their cowardice, let it be silently, by example.

Waste not a second questioning another man’s courage. Put that scrutiny solely on your own.


Agency Is an Effective Truth


Fear determines what is or isn’t possible. If you think something is too scary, it’s too scary for you. If you don’t think you have any power . . . you don’t. If you aren’t the captain of your fate . . . then fate is the captain of you.

We go through life in two ways. We choose between effective truths: that we have the ability to change our situation, or that we are at the mercy of the situations in which we find ourselves. We can rely on luck . . . or cause and effect.


We Are Afraid to Believe


Courage is honest commitment to noble ideals. The opposite of courage is not, as some argue, being afraid. It’s apathy. It’s disenchantment. It’s despair. It’s throwing up your hands and saying, “What’s the point anyway?”

If you fear that there isn’t anything you can do, chances are you will do nothing. You will also be nothing. A protected, self-justifying nothing.


Ryan Holiday Quote 2: “We care so much about what other people think, we’re afraid of them even when we wouldn’t be around to hear it.”


We have to insist there is a point to all this—a point to our lives, a point to our decisions, a point to who we are. What is that point? It’s what we do. It’s the decisions we make. It’s the impact we seek.


Never Let Them Intimidate You


All Growth Is a Leap


All growth is a leap in the dark. If you’re afraid of that, you’ll never do anything worthwhile.

If fear is to be a driving force in your life, fear what you’ll miss. Fear what happens if you don’t act. Fear what they’ll think of you down the road, for having dared so little. Think of what you’re leaving on the table. Think of the terrifying costs of playing small.


Don’t Fear Decisions


[…] even if you choose not to decide—even if you put things off—you still have made a choice. You are voting for the status quo. You are voting to let them decide. You are voting to give up your own agency.

What you fear is consequences. So you keep deliberating, hoping you can put them off.

Can’t lose if you don’t choose? Of course you can. You lose the moment. You lose the momentum. You lose your ability to look yourself in the mirror.


You Can’t Put Your Safety First


There are things worse than dying. Living with what we had to do to keep living, for one.

Fear speaks the powerful logic of self-interest. It is also an inveterate liar.

Life is risky. […] No amount of hiding will actually protect you from scary things.

All certainty is uncertain. You’re not safe. You never will be. No one is. In putting safety above everything, we actually put ourselves in danger. Of being forgotten. Of never coming close. Of being complicit.


Fear Is Showing You Something


Fear alerts us to danger, but also to opportunity. If it wasn’t scary, everyone would do it. If it was easy, there wouldn’t be any growth in it. That tinge of self-preservation is the pinging of the metal detector going off. We may have found something.


The Scariest Thing To Be Is Yourself


Out of fear, we conform. Out of fear, we don’t do what’s right. We mute ourselves. We don’t even want other people to be themselves, because it makes us uncomfortable.

It doesn’t matter who or how many come at you, you have to be you. Confidently. Authentically. Bravely.


Life Happens in Public. Get Used to It.


When we flee in the direction of comfort, of raising no eyebrows, of standing in the back of the room instead of the front, what we are fleeing is opportunity. When we defer to fear, when we let it decide what we will and won’t do, we miss so much. Not just success, but actualization.

Who might we be if we didn’t care about blushing? What could we accomplish if we didn’t mind the spotlight? If we were tough enough to put on the tights? If we were willing not only to fail but to do so in front of others?


Which Tradition Will You Choose?


We must remember that history is not filled with fairy tales, but flesh and blood. Real people, people like you—people no better, certainly no healthier than you—squared up against fate, took her punches, threw their best shot. They failed, they made mistakes, they were knocked down, but they survived. They survived long enough to put in motion the events that carry us forward today. In some cases, they are quite literally our parents, in other cases only figuratively so.


You Can’t Be Afraid to Ask


You’re looking for a hand, not a handout. You’re looking for advice.You’re not looking to be exempted. You’re getting your wounds treated so you can get back into the fight. You’re speaking up not for pity or attention but so the same thing doesn’t happen to someone else. You’re not looking to get an unfair advantage. You’re taking advantage of the opportunities and the protections that were designed for precisely the situation you’re in.


Ryan Holiday Quote 3: “The obstacles, the enemies, the critics—they are not as numerous as you think. It’s an illusion they want you to believe.”


Sometimes just the ask itself is a breakthrough. The admission unlocks something within. Now we’re powerful enough to solve our problem.

We are as sick as our secrets. We are at the mercy of fears we dare not articulate, paralyzed by assumptions we refuse to put to the test.

It’s okay to need a minute. It’s okay to need a helping hand. To need reassurance, a favor, forgiveness, whatever. Need therapy? Go! Need to start over? Okay! Need to steady yourself on someone’s shoulder? Of course! You won’t get any of this if you don’t ask. You won’t get what you’re afraid to admit you need.

We’re in this mission together. We’re comrades. Ask for help. It’s not just brave, it’s the right thing to do.


When We Rise Above . . .


We choose what voice we will listen to. We choose whether we’ll play it safe, think small, be afraid, conform, hide, or be cynical. We choose whether we will break these fears down, whether we’ll go our own way, whether we look down over the side of the narrow bridge and turn back—or keep going.

To have courage? To brave fear? That’s our call. We don’t have to do it. But we can’t escape the fact that it is the thing upon which every other good thing depends. What we want in life, what the world needs—all of it is on the other side of fear. All of it is accessed through courage, should we choose to wield it.


Part II: Courage


Courage is the management of and the triumph over fear.


The Call We Answer . . .


It is the cowardice of others that creates the opportunities for the individual hero.

That is the thing about courage: Just like fear, it is contagious.

[…] if we fight hard and long enough, we will find everyone is with us.


The World Wants to Know


The world wants to know what category to put you in, so it sends difficult situations your way. These are not inconveniences or even tragedies but opportunities, as questions to answers: Do I have cojones? Or perhaps, less gendered, Do I have a spine? Am I brave? Am I going to face this problem or run away from it? Will I stand up or be rolled over? You answer this question not with words but with actions. Not privately but publicly.


If Not You, Then Who?


Each of us has our own skills, our own set of experiences and insights. We each receive our call. If we don’t answer it, then we deprive the world of something. Our failure of courage ripples out beyond us, into the lives of other people.


Preparation Makes You Brave


Although fear can be explained away, it’s far more effective to replace it. With what? Competence. With training. With tasks. With a job that needs to be done.

What we are familiar with, we can manage. Danger can be mitigated by experience and by good training. Fear leads to aversion. Aversion to cowardice. Repetition leads to confidence. Confidence leads to courage.

Know-how is a help. But it’s preparation that makes you brave.


Just Start Somewhere. Just Do Something.


We get started. We do what we can, where we are, with what we have. It adds up.




Are there risks? Of course. It’s not unreasonable to be worried about them. But there is no chance of success if you do nothing, if you don’t even try. No one can guarantee safe passage in life, nothing precludes the possibility of failing or dying. But if you don’t go? Well, you ensure failure and suffer a different kind of death.


Speak Truth to Power



Be the Decider


These precious seconds you spent debating could have gotten you farther away from the hurricane. The time you spent hemming and hawing about speaking up could have been put toward mitigating the fallout. The best time to have tackled a hard problem was a long time ago; the second best time is now.

You can’t beat a problem by debating it, only by deciding what you’re going to do about it and then doing it.


It’s Good to Be “Difficult”


Some of us are afraid to be different. Most everyone is afraid to be difficult. But there is freedom in those traits. Freedom to fight, aggressively,repeatedly, for what we believe in. To insist on a higher standard. To not compromise. To not accept that the “matter has been settled.”

They’ll try to punish you. Which is why, day in, day out, you have to defy them. You have to be combative. You have to be determined. You have to be confident.


Ryan Holiday Quote 4: “Vague fear is sufficient to deter us; the more it is explored, the less power it has over us.”


They’re going to call you crazy—because courage is crazy. We have to be willing to look that way, to be true to who we are anyway. We can’t just not be afraid to be ourselves. We have to insist on it.

You don’t become the first female prime minister of England by blending in.


Just a Few Seconds of Courage


Once the event is underway, everything else comes naturally. […] You’ll be too busy to be afraid. Momentum starts working for you—not against you.

Courage is defined in the moment. In less than a moment. When we  decide to step out or step up. To leap or to step back.


Make It a Habit


How can you trust that you’ll step forward when the stakes are high when you regularly don’t do that even when the stakes are low? So we must test ourselves. We make courage a habit.

No one is more miserable than the person who has made cop-outs and cowardice their go-to decision.


Seize the Offensive


Whatever it is, whatever you’re doing, you must pursue it aggressively. When you operate out of fear, when you’re on our heels, you have no shot.

You have to demand control of the tempo. You have to set the tempo—in battle, in the boardroom, in matters both big and small. You want them to fear what you are going to do, not the other way around.


Stand Your Ground


We cannot tolerate abuse, constraints, or injustice. We can’t hide from our problems. We can only step to them. Submission is no cure. Nor can we expect outrages to magically go away on their own. We must draw the line, somewhere—if not right now, then very soon. We must demand our sovereignty. Insist on it.

And by demanding our rights—by fighting back against oppression or abuse or poor treatment—we’re not only being brave, we are, […], helping everyone who comes after us.


Courage Is Contagious


You make a difference when you are brave. Because you make others brave in the process.

When everything is charged with fear, a spark can ignite a panic.


You Have to Own It


If you’re going to speak out: Sign your name. Sign your name on everything you do. That’s the brave—no, the basic—thing to do.

You break it, you buy it. You make the move, you own it. You say it, you stand behind it. You order it, you accept the blame. This is the source from which self-respect springs and leaders are made.


You Can Always Resist


No one can make a person do wrong. We hold that power. It’s just a question of how far we’re willing to take it.


Fortune Favors the Bold




The Courage to Commit


Nobody became great without believing that such a thing was worth doing.

Nobody is brave without first braving and triumphing over cynicism and indifference.


Love Thy Neighbor


We can’t just bemoan the darkness of this world we live in. We have to search for the light. We have to be the light. For our nearest neighbors. For one another


Bold Is Not Rash


[…] the truly brave are often rather quiet. No time for, no interest in, boasting.


Agency Is Taken, Not Given


What fear does is deprive you of power by making you think you don’t have any. If you don’t believe you can do something, it’s not only unlikely that you can do it, it’s guaranteed that you won’t even try. Which is why we need more people to break out of this mentality.

Each one of us has within our hands the power to end our own captivity. Each one of us has the means to assert our agency. It begins with a choice, but it is ensured by action. Few men of accomplishment, da Vinci noted, got there by things happening to them. No, he said, they are what has happened.

You have to believe you can make a difference. You have to try to make one. Because this too is an effective truth. The unreasonable person is the one who changes the world. The one who believes they can decide the end of the story, that’s the one who at least has a chance of writing some history.


When Violence Is the Answer


Sometimes physical courage is required to protect moral courage. There will be moments when we are at risk—or someone we love is at risk. Kind words will not cut it. Poise will not protect us. What will be called for is intensity, aggression, a demonstration of force. In these moments, we cannot shy away. We cannot shrink. We cannot be bullied. We cannot do nothing. In those moments, we’ll have to hit back, and we’ll have to hit hard. We must raise our fists. We must make our stand. Lest we end up on our knees.


To Get Up and Leave


Some people use the fact that things are bad as an excuse. Some people use their surroundings as a reason to despair. Some people think a lack of opportunity is a problem that resolves itself. Other people get up and do something about it.

No one can promise you that the next place, the next try will go better. But it’s pretty certain that continuing to do the same thing in the same way in the same place over and over is not just insanity, but eventually a form of cowardice.


Do Your Job


Do you know what happens when we avoid the hard things? When we tell ourselves it doesn’t matter? When someone fails to do their job in the moment, or kicks a tough decision upstairs or down the road? It forces someone else to do it later, at even greater cost.

The history of appeasement and procrastination show us: The bill comes due eventually, with interest attached.


You Can Beat the Odds


Whether it’s a 1 percent chance or .0001 percent, all that courage needs to hear is that there is a possibility.

[…] hurdles are the perfect opportunity for the brave to win stunning victories.

It takes courage to look at the averages and say, “I am not average.” To say, “Somebody will be the exception and it may as well be me.” That’s what courage is.

Sometimes we must be brave enough to defy the odds, but we do this only when there is a real chance of success. And we do it rarely, when we have no other choice.


Make Them Proud


This is ready-made courage we can draw on, whenever we feel ourselves wavering. Think of those who led brave lives before you, think of your connection to them.


When We Rise Above Ourselves . . .


True heroism shames us. Humbles us. It moves us beyond reason— because it came from something beyond reason. Which is why we worship it so.


Part III: Heroic


If courage—moral and physical—is the act of putting your ass on the line, then the definition of the heroic is very simple: It is risking oneself for someone else.


Going Beyond the Call . . .


What we’re willing to give—that full measure of our devotion, to the effort, to a stranger, to what must be done—that’s what takes us higher. That’s what transforms us from brave to heroic.


The Cause Makes All


Courage is not an independent good. Heroes have a reason. What good is a deed if done for its own sake? What weight does bravery have as a parlour trick or as an exercise of vanity? Or of unquestioning obedience? What if it’s done for the wrong thing?


The Braver Thing Is Not to Fight


A confrontation that doesn’t need to happen, shouldn’t happen. Suffering, discomfort, worry—these things take courage to endure. But wisdom and compassion obligate us not just to avoid them when unnecessary but to try to protect others from them too. That’s why heroes fight just as hard to prevent a conflict as they do inside the rare conflict they find themselves in.


You Must Go Through the Wilderness


Few leaders are ever perfectly in sync with their times—they’re usually ahead of them. Which is going to mean looking around and finding that they stand alone. Which is going to mean early moments of small crowds and few supporters.


The Selflessness of Love


A hero is not someone simply braving the elements, alone. It’s not you against the world. It’s not you angry at the world. It’s about what you’re willing to do for the world.

Love makes us heroic.


Make People Bigger


Our duty was never just to be the best ourselves, but to help others realize their best. Even if, as is sometimes the case, this effort comes at our own expense.


No Time for Hesitating




We Make Our Own Luck


Our hands are never as tied as we think. There is always something a hero can do, always someone they can help.

We will our purpose into existence. We choose to be heroes. And if we don’t, it’s on us.


Inspire Through Fearlessness


We can’t be afraid or we won’t be able to do what needs to be done. But also, by this fearlessness—willingness to represent the cause, in the flesh, against all dangers—we show everyone else that they’ll be okay as well.

The leader risks themselves for us. They step to the front. They make their courage contagious.


What Are You Willing to Pay?


[…] fear asks, “But what if . . .?” It worries about the cost—mostly to ourselves. A hero doesn’t think about that. They accept the bill that comes due for doing the right thing.

Taking the hit for someone, something else. That’s what heroes do. A coward thinks of themselves


The Big Why


“Character,” de Gaulle reflected at the end of his life, “is above all the ability to disregard insults or abandonment by one’s own people. One must be willing to lose everything. There is no such thing as half a risk.”

That’s a damn good definition of heroism too.


To Go Back to the Valley


This is why we show up for work every day even though we aren’t wanted. Even though it’s dangerous. We aren’t the one in the wrong, so why should we be driven away? If other people want to leave, want to quit, if other people have decided there is no future, just know you don’t have to agree. You can stay. You can go back.

Sometimes we are called to go. But sometimes destiny demands that we stay—that we go back willingly into the jaws, that we stay and fight. For our jobs, our cause, or our life. For our family. For our neighbors. And heroes do this at great cost to themselves


Silence Is Violence


They care about “it” more than they care about themselves. And to say nothing or do nothing is to actually do more harm than whatever discomfort comes by being such a stickler, or by drawing public attention to an unpleasant issue.


Ryan Holiday Quote 5: “If you fear that there isn’t anything you can do, chances are you will do nothing. You will also be nothing. A protected, self-justifying nothing.”


We cultivate courage so we can do important work that people are counting on.


The Audacity of Hope


Remember: Leaders are dealers in hope. Nobody wants to live in a world without a tomorrow, without a reason to continue, without some dot on the horizon they’re aiming at. And if we want that, we’re going to have to make it.


You Must Burn the White Flag


No one is saying they can’t eventually beat you, only that surrender is a choice. Quitting on your cause—that’s on you.

Defeat is a choice. The brave never choose it.


No One Is Unbreakable


Stoicism—deep, deep courage—is there to help you recover when the world breaks you and, in the recovering, to make you stronger at a much more profound level. The Stoic heals themselves by focusing on what they can control: Their response. The repairing. The learning of the lessons. Preparing for the future. Making a difference for others. Requesting help. Changing. Sacrificing for a greater good.


Courage Is Virtue. Virtue Is Courage


Character is fate – Ancient saying

Courage calls us in our fear. It calls us to each act of bravery and perseverance our duties require. And it calls us beyond ourselves to a greater common good. It’s our decision how to answer the call. Not just once but a thousand times in a life. Not just in the past and the future but right now, today.


Book Review (Personal Opinion):


I absolutely loved this book. The only sane person among a group of insane cowards was shouting out for heroism. Such a breath of fresh air. The short chapters full of historical facts and reflections were a pleasure to read from a comfortable chair while sipping hot coffee. The author seems to be sitting by your side and speaking to you about courage, heroes, and a greater cause which happens so rarely nowadays.

If you come across this book at the right time and place in your life, it might reveal your greatness in the most beautiful way. It makes you feel like your power is limitless and you just need to be brave to use it.

Honestly, the only reason I didn’t give it a perfect score was that I felt like it overlooked the value of cautious, unadventurous people. It consistently overestimates timid people in favor of intrepid ones, which I dislike. Adventurers and unadventurous people have their place in the world, and they can even complement each other.


Rating: 9/10


This Book Is For (Recommend):


  •     Everyone who feels depressed and needs to get out of hopelessness
  •     Everyone who wants to develop courage and overcome his fears
  •     Everyone interested in the history of courage

If You Want To Learn More


You can watch Ryan Holiday talking about the Courage Is Calling on his Youtube channel


How I’ve Implemented The Ideas From The Book


Developing a courageous and heroic mindset is the focus of this book. As a result, I began to identify weaknesses in character and fears that prevent me from developing courage. Honestly, it’s hard to say what exactly I have done, but I can say that the inspiration I have gained from this book has helped me to achieve a high level of self-awareness and follow my calling.


One Small Actionable Step You Can Do


Do not overthink and overanalyze everything you do. Spending time analyzing your actions drains the energy you could have put towards making something great happen. In this book, it’s called ‘paralysis by analysis’. You’re better off apologizing than asking for permission, you know. If you do less thinking and more action, you might get good things or learn some good lessons.


Courage Is Calling by Ryan Holiday - Book Summary Infographic