Courage Is Calling: Fortune Favors the Brave Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
The instant New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Best Seller!
Ryan Holiday’s best-selling trilogy - The Obstacle Is the Way, Ego is the Enemy, and Stillness is the Key - captivated professional athletes, CEOs, politicians, and entrepreneurs and helped bring Stoicism to millions of readers. Now, in the first book of an exciting new series on the cardinal virtues of ancient philosophy, Holiday explores the most foundational virtue of all: Courage.
Almost every religion, spiritual practice, philosophy and person grapples with fear. The most repeated phrase in the Bible is “Be not afraid.” The ancient Greeks spoke of phobos, panic and terror. It is natural to feel fear, the Stoics believed, but it cannot rule you. Courage, then, is the ability to rise above fear, to do what’s right, to do what’s needed, to do what is true. And so it rests at the heart of the works of Marcus Aurelius, Aristotle, and CS Lewis, alongside temperance, justice, and wisdom.
In Courage Is Calling, Ryan Holiday breaks down the elements of fear, an expression of cowardice, the elements of courage, an expression of bravery, and lastly, the elements of heroism, an expression of valor. Through engaging stories about historic and contemporary leaders, including Charles De Gaulle, Florence Nightingale, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Holiday shows you how to conquer fear and practice courage in your daily life.
You’ll also delve deep into the moral dilemmas and courageous acts of lesser-known, but equally as important, figures from ancient and modern history, such as Helvidius Priscus, a Roman Senator who stood his ground against emperor Vespasian, even in the face of death; Frank Serpico, a former New York City Police Department Detective who exposed police corruption; and Frederick Douglass and a slave named Nelly, whose fierce resistance against her captors inspired his own crusade to end slavery.
In a world in which fear runs rampant - when people would rather stand on the sidelines than speak out against injustice, go along with convention than bet on themselves, and turn a blind eye to the ugly realities of modern life - we need courage more than ever. We need the courage of whistleblowers and risk takers. We need the courage of activists and adventurers. We need the courage of writers who speak the truth - and the courage of leaders to listen.
We need you to step into the arena and fight.
- Click above for unlimited listening to select audiobooks, Audible Originals, and podcasts.
- One credit a month to pick any title from our entire premium selection — yours to keep (you'll use your first credit now).
- You will get an email reminder before your trial ends.
- $14.95 a month after 30 days. Cancel online anytime.
People who viewed this also viewed
People who bought this also bought
Related to this topic
|Listening Length||6 hours and 5 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||September 28, 2021|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #1,222 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#3 in Greek & Roman Philosophy (Audible Books & Originals)
#12 in Greek & Roman Philosophy (Books)
#39 in Business Motivation & Self-Improvement (Audible Books & Originals)
Reviewed in the United States on February 1, 2022
Reviews with images
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
So, what is courage? first and foremost, it is not the absence of fear, but the management of fear. It is using fear as a risk alert and then follows it up with due diligence to define what we’re actually facing.
As Ryan Holiday remarks, “[f]oresee the worst to perform the best. When fear is defined, it can be defeated. When downside is articulated, it can be weighed against upside. When the wolves are counted, there are fewer of them. Mountains turn out to be molehills, monsters turn out just to be men. When our enemies are humanized, they can be better understood.”
“What we thought were incredible costs,” he then continues, “turn out to be clear calculations—calculations well worth making. The risks, it is revealed, were far outpaced by the rewards. Black swans come into view and can be prepared for. Attacks that we’ve anticipated can be repulsed. The spectrum of possibilities is reduced, the scope of Murphy’s Law is diminished. Vague fear is sufficient to deter us; the more it is explored, the less power it has over us. Which is why we must attack these faulty premises and root them out like the cancers they are.”
Indeed, courage is measuring the danger and carefully calculating our moves to tackle them. Because it’s not whether or not things will be hard (they will) or scary (they are), but it’s about our response of sizing up our obstacles, making plans to defeat them, train for them, and attack them one step at a time.
Courage is also the decision to still go ahead despite the unfavourable odds from our due diligence, when it’s the right thing to do. It is the firefighter rushing into a burning building, the whistleblower taking on corrupt powerful people, the entrepreneur going into business alone, the activist protesting against tyranny, or John F. Kennedy’s decision to help Martin Luther King Jr. to get out of jail for protesting the segregation even though the move was considered a political suicide.
Courage could also means restraint, as Sun Tzu said “it is best to win without fighting—to have maneuvered in such a way that the enemy has lost before it has even begun.” This is what Abraham Lincoln did by managing to maneuver the South into its unwinnable role as the aggressor in the Civil War. It is what Malala Yousafzai shows when asked about the Taliban that shot her in the face and left her for death, she replied “[e]ven if there was a gun in my hand and he was standing in front of me, I would not shoot him.”
One lesson that is sobering from this book is that great legendary heroes were all humans after all with the same doubts and fears like the rest of us. For example, in her version of Hero’s Journey, Florence Nightingale at first refused her “call to adventure” because “it’s too hard, too scary, because they must obviously have picked the wrong person.” But sometimes our calling is much bigger than our fear or the risk, and courage means eventually pursuing the calling even when it feel like the whole world is against us. And that is the thin margin that separates the heroes from the rest.
Churchill was 54 years old and could’ve just retired and lived a simple old days when the danger of Hitler started to appear. Steve Jobs could’ve just stayed content with his second act with Pixar and never to attempt the uphill battle to recoup his first invention Apple. And nobody would blame Charles de Gaulle if after fleeing from Nazi prosecution with his wife and kids, he chose to live anonymously in Britain far away from danger and didn’t organise a French uprising.
Courage is also contagious. I love the story from the ancient Greece where when a city-state needed a military help from Sparta, the Spartans wouldn’t send their army, but instead they only send one Spartan commander. As Holiday explains, “[b]ecause courage, like fear, is contagious. One person who knows what they are doing, who isn’t afraid, who has a plan is enough to reinforce an outnumbered army, to buck up a broken system, to calm chaos where it has taken root. And so a single Spartan was all their allies needed.”
Moreover, sometimes courage appears in a split second decision making. As Holiday remarks, “[c]ourage 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. A person isn’t brave, generally. We are brave, specifically. For a few seconds. For a few seconds of embarrassing bravery we can be great. And that is enough.” And I can’t think of a better example for this than the recent tragedy where an Uvalde teacher shielded her students from a school shooter, thus saving the kids’ lives but lost her own life.
Yes, courage can also mean sacrifice. Like the act by Irma Garcia in that Texas school shooting that saved a lot of her students’ lives. It can also appear in the form of a mother who puts her career ambition aside to take care for her sick child. It is the immigrant who works in a menial job overseas despite having a medical degree from back home. It is the employee who resigned from a high-paying job in a company or industry that is making the world a worse place. It is that person who has a unfairly damaged reputation because they’re silently protecting someone else.
As we have seen, being brave doesn’t mean we are fearless. Far from it. But we can be scared and do it anyway, as the calling or the reason or the purpose are much bigger than our fear. This is what the heroes in history have figured out, that being scared is only a state of mind while being afraid is feeling the fear deeply, with novelist William Faulkner sums it up nicely when he said “be scared. You can’t help that. But don’t be afraid.” And that, in a nutshell, is courage.
It's not some deep treatise on the philosophical notions of courage. It's an evidence-based, historical approach to the Stoic virtue of courage. Courage is not the absence of fear -- it's moving forward in spite of your fear, or because of it.
Others have been in worse situations than you. Others have done this task before. "What one man can do another can do" is a mantra from one of my favorite movies. You can have courage. You can do the right thing.
Also, I really enjoyed the last chapter. Maybe I've missed it, but I've never heard Holiday go into depth about his life before Daily Stoic. I knew he was a marketing executive at American Apparel, but that was it. I knew there'd been some scandal with the CEO. But that was all I knew and all I cared to know. But Holiday opens up and writes about what happened, his role, and his regrets. He explains where he failed to have courage, and when he began to have it. It was a really honest look back, and one that I truly appreciated because we all have been there -- maybe not at a major company, but certainly all of us have been moral cowards at various points in our lives.
While I've always appreciated Holiday's efforts at bringing Stoicism to modern life, that last chapter really made me love and respect him. It's what led me to write this review, in fact.
Ryan’s writes in a way that makes a very hard subject digestible, let’s you find out of this way of world view and life practice is for you. He’s a gateway to the historic writings and allows you to enter with a little background and understanding. The historical are hard, very hard to read. Sometimes I spend an entire day ready one passage, over and over again. trying to truly understand and digest it. Ryan’s work allows you to find out if this study is for you….. stoicism is the way for me; but is it your path? Remember many questions will arise. Continue reading and they seem to answer those questions the deeper you get. Enjoy and be humble. Remember they may keep you in shackles but it’s just your body. Only you can allow your mind to be imprisoned.
Top reviews from other countries
I do like books like this. I find them fascinating. Your generic philosophy / well-being books can be quite vague and cliché. History books have their use. But the increasing wealth of literature attempting to splice the two, tickles my pickle.
And so Holiday should be congratulated on this undertaking. Using the principles of stoicism to motivate the modern reader into reaching their potential is a just and captivating pursuit.
The reason why I rated it three stars are as follows:
- Though there is an apparent close relationship between Greene and Holiday, Courage is Calling seems to contradict 'Greeneism' in many ways. My take from much of Greene's work is that the world is harsh and competitive and you need to use subtlety and poise to navigate through life. Issues are nuanced, people are complex, so understanding people and using restraint in our interactions is key.
Holiday in this book however [this is again my take] seems to champion a rather reckless and swashbuckling kamikaze approach. 'Just send that angry email', 'just quit your job', 'just move places'. It's all very emotional and drastic.
I tend to adhere to Greene's way of looking at this, and so Holiday's proclamations come across as a naive and overly bolshy without regard to repercussions.
How realistic is it to expect a working class 21 year old to just quit their job because they dislike their boss? In an age of intense competition for jobs, rising living costs, the ongoing pandemic. Of course Holiday would respond to this saying that courage is needed to make these big decisions, they can work out - but it just seems a bit too Hollywood happy ending, idealistic for my tastes. I tend to favour Greene's pragmatism. But that's just me.
I just disagree with this idea that you should make yourself a matyr to make some kind of vague wider point; and I can't help but feel this take is derived from Holiday's own angst regarding an experience he had at American Apparel.
- Holiday also lost me slightly when he throws in barbed comments about people he disagrees with on issues such as the COVID vaccine, Trump, voting left or right etc. I think these issues, whichever side you align with, are very charged and trigger emotional responses in us all. By declaring one side right and one side wrong, Holiday loses half the readership. It again seems to be naive from someone acting as an authority on human interaction.
I fundamentally believe that there are certain subjects you're best off tackling in a diplomatic way or perhaps avoiding altogether, so the fact that Holiday seems to either ignore this understanding of human psychology or not care, then sullies my trust in him to advise me on how to interact with society.
It is perhaps a feature from North America where this culture war is particularly toxic and is seeping into many other parts of the West now. This 'goodies v baddies', 2d cartoonish view of both sides of a political issue. It destroys nuance, and creates a very dim 'right v wrong' narrative.
Linked to this is Holiday's attempts in the book to suggest some courage is bad, while other courage is good, and the determining factor of 'good or bad' seems to be whether the agents involved are people he politically aligns with., or those who are opposed. WW2 Japan 'bad', Abraham Lincoln 'good'. In reality no side is wholly good or bad, every cause is nuanced. Good and bad dwell on both sides of every debate.
Holiday also mentions that you have a duty to act in advancing 'the truth' but again 'what is the truth?' everybody will have different perceptions, different opinions.
It may be that the above is just a consequence of the author and I having different world views; and Holiday isn't to blame for seeing things differently to myself.
I can only praise the undertaking, i just found I disagreed with Holiday on much. You should give it a read and make your own mind up. It is very readable, the chapters are short and choppy and the tone is informal so you can pick it up and read significant amounts at ease.
You should by now know that telling just part of a story to make your point is an intellectual misjudgment.
Although you write important aspects on the need to be more courageous, you give the impression that we just need to "stick to what we believe no matter what the consequences are" or "make a leap of faith" - which can result in terrible outcomes if we fail to understand what kind of people one is dealing with or being totally ill-prepared before making the leap.
No, Reed Hastings did not just make a "leap of faith".
Neither Jeff Bezos.
Yes, they made a series of risky decisions, but they were clever enough to test the waters and analyse the market before placing all their stakes in their ideas.
Do study their biographies and paint a more accurate picture than creating a fantasy reality - leave that to J. K. Rowling.
As a final advice, please read again "The 48 Laws to Power" by your mentor Robert Greene.
There is true wisdom in there that you are contradicting in your book.
To be frank, I'm puzzled how Robert allowed you to publish this book on courage... maybe you should ask the true intentions behind the G.O.A.T.?
The reason why I give one star is the trully disappointment in this book compared to others you wrote - and a hope that the next in this sequel is better than giving reckless and naive advices.
I was lucky at eighteen to join a job that tested my mettle, but as life in general gets softer few youngsters learn to face down their fears. He’s done a good job here mixing old wisdom and modern advice.
EDIT: Yeah, enjoyed it and still dipping in, but I can’t help feeling he’s missed a trick. An appendix giving real life examples of progressively overcoming fears would’ve been a great extra to this book. (See ‘Fear, the friend of exceptional people’ by Geoff Thompson)
The book is good as it stands though, so remains five stars from me.
But that’s just me, I’m probably in a minority. People seem to like these books more than ever, and don’t seem to mind the author’s attempts at political messaging. If you’ve liked the author’s books in the past, you’re probably going to like this one too.
It's also neither an academic work on the history of courage, nor a self-help book with references of everyday acts of courage, or any personal experiences from the author.
It's mainly just completely unnuanced stories from heroes of history, that you have to take with a large tub of salt.
I'm glad that he's bringing to the surface ancient values, however a book like: 'A Guide to the Good Life' by Irvine, resonated much more with me.