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Courage Is Calling

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Courage Is Calling

Fortune Favors the Brave

Profile Books,

15 min read
8 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Muster the courage required to live a virtuous life.

Editorial Rating



  • Visionary
  • Eloquent
  • Inspiring


Everyone feels the call to display courage at key points in their lives. Wise people listen to that calling and take action, writes best-selling author and podcast host Ryan Holiday. Courage is an essential component of living a virtuous life, he explains, yet it’s rarer than it should be because far too many people choose to live in fear. Drawing from sources such as Stoic philosophy and comparative mythology, Holiday exhorts readers toward courageous self-actualization with calm, clear advice. Fear-based decisions may help you feel safe, but raise the biggest risk of all, he says: wasting your short time on earth “playing small.” 


Four virtues – courage, temperance, justice and wisdom – comprise the good life.

The Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius regarded the four virtues of courage, temperance, justice and wisdom as “touchstones of goodness.” These “cardinal virtues” appear in texts from the ancient world from Christianity to Hinduism. The Greek philosopher Aristotle, for example, stressed that, as a harpist learns by playing the instrument, you become virtuous by practicing virtuous actions. You have multiple opportunities to choose virtue every day. The Greek root of the word “virtue” is arete, which translates roughly as “excellence.” Choosing virtue means choosing mental, physical and moral excellence.

Courage can be physical – for example, saving someone from a burning building – or moral – for example, acting as a whistleblower. Both kinds are valuable and involve risk, sacrifice and determination that many people fail to display. Instead of doing the right thing, people often opt to do what feels safe.

Courage is a rarity because many people live in fear.

Brave people muster the ability to overcome fear. Comparative mythologist...

About the Author

Host of The Daily Stoic podcast Ryan Holiday also wrote Trust Me, I’m Lying, Ego Is the Enemy, Conspiracy and The Obstacle Is the Way.

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