A few years ago when I lived in the Philippines I learned a very important phrase in the Tagalog language. It is "ningas kugon". Kugon (or Cogon) is a type of grass native to tropical and subtropical Asia that can be used to make a roof for houses when it is dried.
Ningas means burning or flaming. The phrase translates literally to Kugon grass that is on fire. If the grass catches fire it will burn very hot and very fast, but will quickly fade out and die. Filipinos use this expression as a metaphor for times when we start something full of fire and passion, but lose motivation quickly after that.
This phrase resonates with me because I have done that exact thing so many times when it comes to improvement. My determination for personal growth burns hot initially but fades out fast. For example, I would get fired up about writing in a journal and write 2-3 pages to catch up for all the experiences I hadn’t documented. I would do that for a couple days, then miss a day or two. Those days turned into months and years of missed journal writing until the next time I was motivated to start again, and the process was repeated. I would also get excited about fitness. So I would go to the gym, work out for an hour and a half, then be so sore for the next week that it took another 2 months for me to get back at all.
Ningas kugon has also been evident in my professional life. Working for a large organization has given me the opportunity to participate in numerous company sponsored training courses over the years. Some of the courses were for self-improvement, others were for team improvement, and some were to learn leadership skills. There were many helpful principles taught that I have been able to implement to improve professionally and personally. I would apply these methods for a period of time, only for them to be replaced by a subsequent prioritized training until the previous learnings became all but forgotten.
Streaking has been a game changer for me in my efforts to overcome ningas kugon. Because I only have to do the smallest thing each day in order to keep the streak alive, I don’t burn out and can continue my personal improvement. I will often do more than the minimum amount, but there are days when all I can do is reach the bottom rung on the improvement ladder. That is perfectly ok because I have kept the streak going and I remain motivated.
Streaking isn't Ningas Kugon.
Streaking isn't Ningas Kugon. It is a slow burn of continuous simple actions that I can do regularly. Streaking has given me the sustainable consistency I need to become who I want to be. Because of that steadiness I am further along my journey than I would have been with a high intensity but short-lived effort.