Courage is Calling by Ryan Holiday

Courage is Calling by Ryan Holiday 1

I read this book in a pair with Discipline Is Destiny (also in the same series).

My likes / dislikes / takeaways are almost precisely the same – but instead of discipline (aka temperance in the four cardinal Stoic virtues), the author covers Courage, which is the linchpin of all four.

Read my review of Discipline Is Destiny.

But there were a couple of notes specific to Courage Is Calling.

First, I found it interesting that Courage is the linchpin of all four virtues. Courage encompasses initiative, motivation, confidence, foresight, and the desire to learn. It’s a “meta-virtue” since, without it, the Stoics argue that you will fail even to attempt to practice wisdom, justice, and discipline. Since the Stoics argued that virtues are actions, not beliefs, without the courage to do, improving your life is sort of doomed.

Second, I love, love, love how the book emphasizes the quietness of courage. In America, at least, the word brings up images of soldiers charging the enemy with brazen self-confidence. That is not how courage appears in real life. His examples & stories are so powerful and forceful in highlighting real-life courage.

Third, I appreciate how the book spends time on the messiness of courage and the messiness of human life. In some ways, that’s precisely where courage thrives. It takes courage to not see the world in black and white. And unlike the brazen charging soldier, sometimes it takes courage to wait and understand your situation better. His stories from the Civil Rights Movement really drove this point home.

Overall, like Discipline Is Destiny, it’s a book I got from the library, but I plan to buy. It’s that worthwhile.

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