Courage is Calling Book Summary - Courage is Calling Book explained in key points
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Courage is Calling summary

Ryan Holiday

Fortune Favors the Brave

4.3 (264 ratings)
18 mins
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    Courage is Calling
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    Courage means willingly facing hardship and danger.

    When people talk about courage, they often break it into two different types: moral courage and physical courage.

    Moral courage, they say, is the ability to act as your conscience dictates – even if that means defying social norms, or risking scandal and gossip. Whistleblowers and truth tellers exemplify this type of courage. They’re unafraid to rely on their own inner convictions, no matter the consequences.

    Physical courage, on the other hand, is demonstrated by soldiers and first responders. It means risking life and limb – putting your body, rather than your reputation, on the line.

    Maybe you think it’s a useful distinction. But is it really? At the end of the day, doesn’t courage of all stripes come down to one thing: taking risks, enduring danger, putting yourself in peril?

    Tke key message here is: Courage means willingly facing hardship and danger.

    You’ve surely heard of Hercules. He’s a towering figure, both literally and figuratively, in the myths of ancient Greece. A hard-living and rugged warrior, it’s easy to imagine him living on the spur of the moment, romping through life in pursuit of each minute’s appetites and whims. 

    But nothing could be further from the truth. You see, Hercules willingly chose to endure hardship. Presented with two options – a risk-free life of ease and a risky life of virtue – he made the courageous choice. He embraced risk and struggle, and spent his life pursuing virtue.

    In the legend, the choice was stark. Hercules, then only a young man, came to a shaded crossroads in the hills of Greece. The road diverged – and along each path stood a woman, each quite unlike the other.

    One was a beautiful goddess, luxuriously robed. She enticed him with promises of ease, pleasure, and untroubled peace. If he followed her, she assured him, he would never experience pain, hardship, or deprivation: his life would be a dream, his every wish satisfied.

    The other woman promised something very different. She too was a goddess, but she was dressed very plainly. She didn’t entice or allure, and she offered a life a good deal less tempting. Not a life of pleasure, but one of struggle. Not a life of ease, but one of hard work. 

    But for all the deprivation and danger Hercules would face, all the threats and terrors, he would also gain something: not pleasure, not ease, but glory – the reward for living life against the odds, for courageously choosing to pursue virtue. 

    Hercules hesitated briefly – and then he chose the thorny but virtuous path, the one that has kept his name alive for eons. You might hesitate, too – but would you choose what Hercules chose?

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    What is Courage is Calling about?

    Courage is Calling (2021) is both a meditation on bravery and a guide to courageousness. From how to dispel your fears to the benefits of taking small steps first, it gives concrete advice for building courage, and lays out, in writing rich with anecdotes, the simple ways that each of us can become a little bit braver.

    Who should read Courage is Calling?

    • Scaredy-cats in need of a strong dose of daring
    • The already-courageous who want to become even braver
    • Anyone interested in how courage has shaped history

    About the Author

    Ryan Holiday is an American author, media strategist, and bookstore owner. He’s also the host of the Daily Stoic podcast. His other books include The Daily Stoic, Ego is the Enemy, and The Obstacle is the Way.

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