ASH AMBIRGE

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Calling All of My Flakes, My Quitters, My Commitment Clunkers: The Secret to Finishing What You Started Is NOT Patience. (So You Can Tell All Of Those “Have Patience” Hoodlums to Kiss It.)

In: Creativity Coaching

You know who I personally have it out for? People who tell you to have patience.

“Have patience, my dear,” they say—and then they always tack that goddamn “my dear” onto the end, as if they’ve suddenly transformed into a card-carrying ninety-year-old wizard. There’s no faster way to bring my lack of patience from a Level 5 to a Level Eleventy Hundred, than being called “dear,” “sweetie,” “doll,” or the worst offender of all: “honey.” I will cut a bitch.

Ancient Chinese martial arts aside (that I really can’t do anyway), I never liked being told to have patience because it seemed like a wussy way of doing things. If I was really any good, I wouldn’t have to have patience, because I’d be out there making it happen. Waiting seemed like a thing you did when you didn’t know what to do. I mean, I’m pretty sure that nobody won a Nobel Peace Prize by chilling in a corner.

And then I endeavored to write a book. A good book. A meaningful book.

One that contained an artful story arc, and tension in all the right places, and big, important takeaways, and gorgeous writing with humor in just the right amount.

I’ve spent three hours a day, nearly every day, since January 2015, working on this book. For someone who doesn’t have patience, I seem to have found a whole bunch of it, because IT FINALLY OCCURRED TO ME THAT WHAT PEOPLE HAVE BEEN TALKING ABOUT ALL THIS TIME IS NOT PATIENCE AT ALL. They’re using the wrong word! Whoever came up with the most annoying phrase of all-time was clearly talking to little boys; not adults who are trying very, very hard to accomplish something. Because what they mean to say, when they tell you to have patience, is not to calm yourself and wait passively—they mean to tell you to stay the course; endure; persist.

And perhaps a better word for that is stamina.

Have stamina, my dear, is perhaps more appropriate. (Though I will still cut a bitch.)

And while that may just be a matter of nuance, I thought it was worthwhile to mention, because the lessons I’ve internalized from devoting myself to a long-term project that practically requires HOLY MATRIMONY has carried over to other areas of my life in ways I hadn’t expected. For example, I noticed that I am no longer trying to get in shape by exercising as hard as I can for a month; now I’m perfectly content by putting in twenty-minutes of strength training each and every day, and letting the results accumulate over time without me having to control it—or even think anything more about it. I am no longer worried about having everything perfect in time for a launch, say, because I know that I will continue to make little adjustments as we go, regardless. In fact, I am no longer trying to hurry through anything, really—not even with my clients—because I have a much more refined appreciation of good craftsmanship, and what it takes to produce something that's really well done.

I suspect much of this is because I’ve seen the superiority of my writing now, compared to when I first started this project, and feel more confident than ever that the cumulative effects of repeating a behavior over time far outperforms a few stubborn outbursts.

And to that end, I wonder if perhaps we all owe it to ourselves to commit to a project bigger than we are; to let it shape us, and mold us, and influence the way we see the world. Everything these days is about getting it done as quickly as possible, checking it off the list, and moving onto the next thing.

But, what if you stayed? 

While patience is a virtue, perseverance may be far more useful.

Jun 17

2017

Plan on Doing It Wrong First

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There’s this really scary fear of doing it wrong. Do you not do Instagram because you think you’re going to do it wrong? Do you not do yoga because you think you’re going to do it wrong? Do you not go into the hip cafe because you think you’re going to do it wrong? Do […]

In: Creativity Coaching

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Aug 18

2017

Good Work Should Never Come Easy

Aug 18, 2017

Do the work the hard way first. Do it the long way, the tedious way, the time-consuming way. Do it until your brain aches and your fingers bleed. Do it until you are sure that you have never done better work before in your life. Now, hand it to the client. The work should never, […]

In: Creativity Coaching

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Nov 25

2014

Creativity Zapped? Try This Madman Trick.

Nov 25, 2014

So I have this theory about creativity. First of all, it drinks bourbon, neat. And second of all, it’s hungry.  Hungry like the kind of hungry you get when you only had a dinky little grapefruit for breakfast. (Which doesn’t even count since you need the jaws of life to extract anything out of those […]

In: Creativity Coaching

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Feb 2

2016

Headspace Is Like a Goddamn Unicorn

Feb 2, 2016

Headspace. Even though it feels about as mythical as a goddamn unicorn, it’s a thing. I know most of us would feel more comfortable using a keyboard full of hypodermic needles than, you know, actually relaxing, but in my experience over the last decade running my own business, there are few things I find more essential. […]

In: Creativity Coaching

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Aug 26

2014

If You’re Not Dangerous, Get Out.

Aug 26, 2014

If you’re not dangerous, we don’t want to work with you. You might have the qualifications. You might have gone to Harvard. Maybe you’re perfectly competent. Step it up. Competence doesn’t demand that anyone notice you, wonder about you, or care about you.  Nobody ever won an award for hitting a deadline on time. We want to […]

In: Creativity Coaching

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Oct 10

2017

Calling All of My Flakes, My Quitters, My Commitment Clunkers: The Secret to Finishing What You Started Is NOT Patience. (So You Can Tell All Of Those “Have Patience” Hoodlums to Kiss It.)

Oct 10, 2017

You know who I personally have it out for? People who tell you to have patience. “Have patience, my dear,” they say—and then they always tack that goddamn “my dear” onto the end, as if they’ve suddenly transformed into a card-carrying ninety-year-old wizard. There’s no faster way to bring my lack of patience from a […]

In: Creativity Coaching

READ ME >>

Apr 29

2017

Creativity Doesn’t Need an Ulterior Motive

Apr 29, 2017

The other day someone took note of my new daily blog post. “You’re launching something big,” they said. “No,” I replied. “I’m just a writer.” We’ve gotten so used to there always being an ulterior motive, that we’re suspicious when there isn’t one. Do the thing you’re called to do, especially when you have no […]

In: Creativity Coaching

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Jul 22

2017

50x Over Is Your New Fucking Motto

Jul 22, 2017

Lifting weights in the gym is generally viewed as a positive thing. You do a rep, and then do it again, because you fundamentally understand that the only way to grow a muscle is through creating tension. You don’t get mad at yourself for the fact that you can’t lift 100 pounds weights on your […]

In: Creativity Coaching

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I'm a Bad Influence on Women

Hey, I’m Ash! Twenty years ago I was a small town girl growing up in a trailer park in rural Pennsylvania. Fifteen years ago, I lost my family and everything I knew right as I became the first to graduate college. Fourteen years ago, I found myself leaving everything behind for a new life in the city where I could be “normal.” Ten years ago I realized normal was the most disappointing thing that ever happened to me. Nine years ago I quit my job in advertising and pursued my dreams as a creative writer. Eight years ago, I built a 6-figure business doing what I love using nothing more than the Internet and my voice. And now, today, I’m the founder of The Middle Finger Project, an irreverent media co. that helps other women find their voice and teaches them to use it to build whatever the f*ck they want to. With a book coming out with Penguin Random House in February 2020 (YASSS, WE’RE A PRODUCT IN TARGET!) I’m proud to be a bad influence on women and guide them into doing something disobediently brave with their life and their career.

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