Bruce Law Firm September 2018

And Know the Difference Work Smarter, Not Harder September 2018

As a kid, I loved baseball, despite the fact that I was terrible at it. To make up for it, I put a lot of work into improving, especially when I got to high school. I worked with my hitting coaches and I stayed after practice to get in extra practice time, but I never did as well as I wanted. Looking back, the missing factor was that I never really learned the fundamentals of the sport. I was practicing a lot, but in the wrong way. I was working hard, but I wasn’t working smart . I didn’t have a foundation or overarching goal to orient all that practice time. I may have missed my chance to be a Marlins player, but learning that lesson early has helped me apply it to every area of my life.

Math was another area that perpetually challenged me as a kid. I didn’t pick up the concepts as quickly as my peers did. Despite my lack of natural talent, I was determined to conquer it. In my junior year of high school, I enrolled in an upper-level calculus class that led up to an exam at the end of the year that would exclude you from having to take calculus in college if you passed. It was hard, but my teacher, Ms. Fenton, encouraged me to keep going and worked with me a lot so I could learn the principles. I worked very hard to get a B. But unlike with baseball, thanks to Ms. Fenton, I learned the fundamentals, and I had the encouragement of a larger goal that I was working toward. I passed calculus and the big exam. When I got to college, I chose to take on more math. I majored in accounting, and the discipline I developed in high school paid off. I realized quickly that my preparation time needed to be 3–4 times as long as it had been in the past. That’s what made me successful. It’s the same strategy I used when I got to law school, and it’s the same I use today. If I think a case is going to be more challenging, I make the time to prepare for it thoroughly. For people who can prepare faster, they may not need as much time as I do. But I’ve gotten to know myself, and I know how I work and what I need to do to get the best job done. With a lot of hard work and dedication, you can accomplish your goals. It’s just about finding the strategies that work best for you. What my experiences have taught me is that hard work alone isn’t going to cut it if you’re not working in a smart way. What I try to do now in every area of my life — my law firm, my children, my marriage — is to make sure the big picture is in place. I talk with my team every morning about how we’re approaching our work and about our systems and processes. We make sure we’re never just doing tasks for the sake of doing tasks; we do them in a way that benefits our firm and our clients.

When you step back and look at the big picture, you learn to prioritize the tasks that will contribute to your goals. You learn to work smarter, not harder.

– Chris Bruce

Ashley and I mountain biking in Colorado this summer.

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