It is often said that farmers are eternal optimists. But sometimes (okay many times) in a farming career, that optimism is overshadowed by higher input costs, lower crop prices and days when it feels like nothing can go your way. Yes, even farmers need a good, swift kick in the pants every now and again to keep trudging forward when that proverbial towel would be so easy to throw in.
Farmers across the country are getting that pants kicking from fellow farmer Andy Johnson, founder of FarmStrong Coaching, who farms alfalfa in Colorado.
“FarmStrong Coaching is a passion project that was born out of my need to belong to something,” Johnson said. “You know as farmers we sit in our tractors and it looks really glamorous to some, but it’s a lot of time just sitting there by yourself and I wanted a way to connect with something else out there. I found that with fitness and motivational speaking.”
There was a time in Johnson’s life that he felt like there was a huge gap between what he knew he was capable of and what he was actually doing.
“My dreams began to fade, my weight was increasing and I was just looking forward to the end of the day and not something in the future,” Johnson said. “FarmStrong Coaching is a way for me to help connect people and get one another to root each other on, keep each other motivated and disciplined to reach our long-term goals. We punch excuses in the face and celebrate our wins as a group.”
Farming is a metaphor for what Johnson is trying to accomplish with FarmStrong Coaching, with a tagline of “Grow Your Dreams”. His efforts are helping to get people to be better versions of themselves and help them get and stay healthy.
“It’s interesting that when you get breakfast at any small town diner and the ‘farmer breakfast’ isn’t necessarily the one that is all that healthy but we work so hard that we think we can get away with it,” Johnson said. “When I work 18-hour days cutting alfalfa and stressing about the quality of what I am producing, sometimes to get the job done I drink energy drinks or soda and even skip meals. So when I am busting it taking care of everybody else, I’m not doing a great job of taking care of myself.”
Johnson also emphasizes mental health within his network of farmers, which is where his “Tractor Seat Thoughts” videos come into play.
“When most of us are alone in the cab for a long time we think about stuff like big dreams, big ideas and our families,” Johnson said. “My videos help tap into that potential and push people to dream about the future.”
Johnson enjoys seeing the fruits of his labor, both in the alfalfa fields and from his online community, as he receives messages from those that have used a thought or idea from FarmStrong Coaching and turned it into something great for themselves and others on down the line — what Johnson calls “the ripple effect.”
“My audience consists of naturally hard working people in agriculture and they have the work ethic and the discipline but they don’t always have the plan or the vision, so all I have to do is flip that switch inside them and watch them come alive,” Johnson said. “I really feel like I am making a small dent in the world and that makes that tractor seat, which used to be a lonely place to be, not so lonely anymore. I feel like I am doing something good every single day.”
Find more about FarmStrong Coaching at www.FarmStrongCoaching.com