The Filipino phrase “ningas-kugon” is used to describe a Filipino trait. Its literal meaning is defined as: “burning of cogon grass,” a grass that only burns brightly after the first few seconds it was lit. Translated in our culture, it means when a person shows great enthusiasm while undertaking an endeavor only for it to fade away as time goes along.
We nearly always call-out this sort of attitude, whether it be your sister’s suitor or an elected government official acting like it. It’s a trait that unfortunately has been engrained in our culture across different generations. For all of our sakes, this trait needs to be removed from our mindset.
Being “ningas-kugon” impedes our path in reaching our full potential. One of the things this toxic trait affects is our progress. By exhibiting this kind of attitude, we cannot ever establish the trust of important people, the people that play important roles in our rise and fall. Our immediate supervisors at work, our teachers at school, our parents. In a way, by being only driven for a short period of time when working on something, we are also failing and betraying ourselves.
In our life, we need people to guide, inspire, encourage us along the way. Once they see and feel that your motivation to work disappears, it’s possible that they will lose their confidence in you. They might see your behavior as a sign of surrender that will make them see you as a lost cause and just stop playing these important roles which will contribute to your advancement.
Worse, the domino pieces might fall and also negatively influence your own self-confidence. You will begin to doubt yourself and your abilities, thus diminishing your productivity, thus time and even resources are wasted.
As sad it is, this detrimental trait has been associated with us Filipinos as some of us have shown, or still shows, this behavior.
However, it is well known globally that Filipinos are hardworking due to the success our fellow countrymen have attained across our different fields which means there is still hope that this stigma that some have caused to spread can be erased.
It only takes one person to be influenced by the positive impact of the likes of Manny Pacquiao, Lea Salonga, or a Francis Libiran to create a rift that will spread their positivity and turn things around to the right direction.
Doing your best is always a requirement for anything you do. Particularly on a job or any project. It is essential that you are at your best, and you can achieve that for a day. It’s being consistent that is the challenge; being at your best on a daily basis. And to be at your best, your mindset must follow as well.
Performing in full capacity and maintaining it are two different beasts. One thing is for sure, we need both. We need both to help ourselves eliminate the “ningas-kugon” that’s killing our success and keep that flame burning.