"Courage Is Calling" by Ryan Holiday

Review by Borodutch

I respect Ryan as a writer and as a person who popularizes stoicism. Hence, I bought this book instantly upon learning that there are new reads that I haven't seen yet by this author. However, while reading the book, I kept silently wondering: "Could this be an essay?"

Indeed, it seems like it could. This book reads like a collection of motivational quotes and stories glorified and taken out of context. Unfortunately, despite my wholehearted love for what Ryan usually writes, this title was more like "The 5 AM Club" by Robin Sharma (and I hated the infantility of that one).

"Courage Is Calling" covers the first out of four cardinal virtues of stoicism. Unfortunately, this virtue is quite apparent and plain. "Be brave, even when it's hard" — that's it, I spared you the reading time. There's more, obviously, like:

  • You don't have to be brave all the time, and often it takes ten or so courageous seconds to do difficult things
  • No courage means no action, and no action means no chance to prevail
  • Vague situation block courage, gather data and decrease vagueness to make obtaining courage easier
  • Courage, akin muscles, takes practice to master
  • Start with small courage and work your way up

Another interesting thing to note is how Ryan picks the examples supporting the arguments. They are mostly relatively shallow, like "this famous person prevailed, be like that famous person," making the mistake of cutting out the essential details and falling victim to survivorship bias.

But even considering everything above, I think it's a good enough weekend read for people trying to find courage. After all, someone must tell you not to be afraid. That someone might as well be Ryan.