Courage is Calling by Ryan Holiday: Book Summary

Fortune Favors the Brave

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Courage is Calling: Book Summary

This is my summary of the book Courage is Calling: Fortune Favors the Brave by Ryan Holiday. This summary contains my own thoughts, reflections, and direct quotes from the book. With the small nuggets of knowledge and ideas, this book can change your perspective towards certain things in life.

Imagine how the world would be like without courage. The courage to do the right things at the right moment is what helps you grow otherwise you stay in the same place your whole life. 

There’s nothing in this world that you can’t do. But many people don’t show courage. Courage is not a finite resource. It’s in every one of us. There are unlimited opportunities that life provides you to show courage yet it remains so rare.

The greatest achievement in human history all share the same thing. The bravery of ordinary men and women. People who did what needed to be done. People who said, “If not me, then who?”

What’s courage?

Courage is when you do the thing others cannot or will not do. Courage is when you do the thing that people think you shouldn’t or can’t do. Otherwise, it’s not courage. You have to be braving something or someone.

“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 is a beautiful thing in this ugly world. It is what allows beautiful things to exist.


Fear is your enemy. And you have to know it and understand all of the forms it takes in your life. For if you don’t understand your enemy, you won’t be able to beat it. You have to study fear.

No human is without fear but the ability to master it and rise above it is what makes some people so remarkable. So, if you want to be great, you have to learn to conquer fear and rise above it.

When someone tells you something, they are just trying to impose their beliefs on themselves. They are showing you their limitations, not yours. If you let their beliefs and fear hold on you, it’ll hold you back. It will freeze you.

What we are to do in this life is bigger than us. We are selected and chosen. But the question is are you willing to accept the call. Are you willing to face your fears, overcome them and do what’s demanded of you?

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.

Being Scared vs Afraid

Being scared and being afraid are two different things. One helps you to make you alert, wakes you up, and informs any danger. The other drags you down, weakens you, or even paralyzes you.

You can’t let fear rule you

Fear is an emotion and if you want to defeat fear you have to act logically. Be aware and empathetic. It doesn’t make you soft rather gives you confidence. We are afraid of what other people will think even when we will longer be there to hear. 

You can’t let fear rule you. Doing something that matters to you means that you will piss some people off. You can’t let the fear of what others will think to rule you.

“Let other people worry over what they will say about you. They will say it in any case.”

Most of us fear things not working out. We fear what people might think. You too have to develop the courage to actually look at what you are afraid of. You have to have the courage to think about all the things that can go wrong.

Most people are surprised at the consequences and say that they never thought that’d happen. It sounds contradicting but it’s better to be pessimistic and prepared than the alternative. You have to have the courage to see the worst and perform your best.

Don’t worry if things will be hard. Focus on the fact that these things will help to make you. Difficulties and struggles are what prepares us for the moment. The whole point is it’s hard, that’s why you should do it. If it were easy, wouldn’t everyone do it?

“Plenty and peace breed cowards. Hardness ever of hardiness is mother” — Shakespear

Face your fears

If you have to face something, face it right away. Don’t fill your mind with all the bad things that might happen. Be focused on the present. The sooner the danger faced the better. All the energy we spend fearing is the energy we could have spent making something better.

You’ve already got plenty of your own stuff in front of you. Mind your own business first. Don’t condemn or waste your time in the investigation.

Don’t ask what you’d be doing if you were in a different situation, place, time? Ask: What are you doing right now?

You can be the captain of your fate or let fate be your captain. If you don’t believe you can do something, or if you are afraid, it’s very unlikely that you’ll be able to do it. You have to believe before you do.

Don’t try to fit-in

Most of us lie, compromise, and try to fit in. We don’t want to offend others. We don’t want any trouble. We don’t want to lose our privileges and access.

But remember there is no progress without risk. You are here, on this planet for a very short amount of time. Fear is a sign that you are moving in the right direction. Our fears point us in a direction of the right thing to do. It alerts of danger but also opportunity.

Listen closely to your fears and then do the opposite.

Being Courageous is much safer

Imagine living a boring life, where courage is never required. We like to think that we can have an extraordinary life by making ordinary decisions. Do you believe that? It’s worth remembering that most people die in bed. Getting up and getting active is much safer.

Be Yourself

The scariest thing is to be yourself. We all are unique. No one has the same experience as we had. No one has the same DNA as we have. Yet we choose to push it away. We choose not to be ourselves. We conform to your fears. We mute ourselves. We don’t want to feel uncomfortable so we choose to go along. We value other people’s opinions more than our own. 

It requires courage to be different, thinks differently, and act differently. It takes courage to see what others don’t see and what others don’t hear.

Be yourself. Be original. To be anything else is to be a coward.

Success doesn’t happen in private. If you want to be successful, you have to put yourself out there. Most people would rather die than be in the public. You can’t be successful if you let the feeling of fear, embarrassment, and awkwardness hold you back.

Is there a benefit to fear?
What would the world look like if everyone acted out of fear? You can’t even imagine, it’d be hell. It makes sense to fear. to avoid risk, to accommodate, to settle, and be safe.

But this can’t be us. Everything we want is on the other side of fear. To be brave and courageous, that’s our call.

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