Coach’s Corner: Keystone Habits Can Transform Your Path to Success

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Photo: “The Ripple Effect” by Rich Hermann via Flickr

Mark Johnson 
Chief Executive Officer, JP and Associates Realtors

Some habits are more important than others — they have the power to transform. Keystone habits are like throwing a pebble into the water and the ripple effect it creates. Said another way, these habits hold together all of our other habits, much like the pillars of a bridge.

Make your bed!

There is a great book and a great video from Admiral McRaven (see below). You see, Admiral McRaven knows that it’s the little things executed consistently over time that can change our life, change our business, and change the world. 

There are three characteristics of keystone habits that set them apart:

  • Keystone habits make it easier to start new habits.
  • Keystone habits are small enough to avoid overwhelm and build confidence.
  • Keystone habits make positive behavior addictive.

When you identify your keystone habits that meet these criteria and suit your lifestyle, that is when your breakthrough begins. Need a specific example? Try taking your MEDS daily. 

Consider taking your MEDS daily.

Meditation & Prayer 
Exercise 
Diet & Nutrition 
Sleep 

Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit, calls these “keystone habits.” They are correlated with other good habits. 

For example, studies have shown that people who regularly exercise three or more times a week tend to eat healthier, consume less alcohol, smoke less, be more productive at their work, and sleep better than those who don’t.

Getting a good night of sleep isn’t only for the kids. Your quality of sleep could also have a profound impact on your productivity and happiness. According to a report from the Harvard Medical School:

“When we are sleep deprived, our focus, attention, and vigilance drift, making it more difficult to receive information. Without adequate sleep and rest, over-worked neurons can no longer function to coordinate information properly, and we lose our ability to access previously learned information.”

Watch my interview with Dr. Shane Creado, an expert on peak performance and productivity. 

Keystone habits, without them, everything seems to fall apart. But, with their support, everything seems to fall into place easier and more efficiently. Now, not all habits are positive. Think of the negative impacts that could occur in your life if you started drinking a six-pack of soda every night. Your physical health would suffer.

It’s essential to recognize how one action that you do regularly can influence the larger picture, and because of this, we want to make sure that our everyday activities are leading us to become the best version of ourselves rather than hurting us in the long run. If you recognize and adopt good keystone habits, you will notice that things can improve dramatically because of one small change.

Duhigg, in his book, says that ultimately, willpower is the most critical keystone habit if you want to achieve success. Everything boils down to your self-discipline. Do you do what is right or best even though it might not be the most comfortable choice? Or do you give in to what is going to give you the most immediate satisfaction?

Change the goal or change the behavior? The choice is yours. 


Mark Johnson is the Chief Executive Officer of JP & Associates, a rapidly growing full-service real estate brokerage. He is focused primarily on productivity and service. He has invested nearly 25 years in understanding the inner workings of high performing real estate agents, teams, managers, and leaders in major markets across the world. In prior assignments, he served as a Business Coach, in progressive leadership capacities for the 5th largest US-based real estate brokerage firm, in sales and marketing leadership capacities for a major consumer goods company, and served a stint in the US Army, Medical Service Corps. He was recalled to active duty during Desert Storm. Mark is a father of 3, lifelong learner, Spartan, and adventure athlete. He earned his MBA from California State University and a Behavioral Change Certification from the National Association of Sports Medicine. Several years ago, he decided to make “One Helluva Move” and not play it safe. Since that decision, he has climbed the world’s tallest free-standing mountain — Kilimanjaro; completed the Spartan trifecta, the LA Marathon, and the world-famous Iowa border to border RABGRAI ride, among other crazy adventures.

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