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Men at Work | Overcoming challenges, the Britney Spears way

By Fabio Crispim

Thing haven’t always been rosy for our beloved Britney. After her early success bursting into our lives with ‘Baby One More Time’ things weren’t looking so great for a while. She had a difficult time a few years ago including a widely publicized shaving off all of her own hair in a very public way. This culminated in 2007 when she was put under the conservatorship of her father, giving him control of her finances as well as her custody right being suspended.

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Fast forward a few years. Britney has just released her new album Glory and has announced a special one off gig in London next month at the Apple Music Festival. Add this to her Vegas residency, performing at the VMA’s and an appearance on Carpool Karaoke and things are looking a lot better for the ‘Womanizer’ singer.

Britney’s bounce-back shows us that even when we face challenging times in our life, or at work, it is possible to turn things around. So here are some strategies on dealing with and overcoming challenges, personal or professional, from the school of Miss Britney Spears:

Don’t let things get Toxic


When we experience a set-back or a problem often we have the urge to either fight or flight, deal with the problem head on or go off running. Running, or flight, isn’t necessarily literal. It can also take the form of denial or pretending the problem isn’t there. It’s natural to do this for a bit but leave it too long and it can start festering away, affecting your mood and changing the way you feel about yourself or treat other people. Acknowledging the problem is the first step to be able to deal with it and make a plan to work through it, so do that before it gets toxic. 

Oops!… I Did It Again

Despite the fact that Britney kept making that poor lad believe they were more than just friends and just said ‘Oops’, this isn’t always a good strategy. Particularly after he’d gone to the trouble of going to the bottom of the ocean to pick up the necklace the old lady dropped in at the end… but I digress.

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Put short, learn from your mistakes. Saying ‘Oops’ once when you make a mistake is fine. But if you get to the point where you’re saying ‘Oops!… I did it again’ you need to ask why it keeps happening. When you find yourself in a challenging situation look back over it and work out what got you there. Once you’ve identified the root cause of the problem you can then put strategies in place to avoid making the same mistake again. 

Work B**ch

Once you have accepted the situation and worked out where things went wrong, you can get to work putting things right. Set a goal to work out where you want to get to – firstly a long term goal that you are aiming for, but then break this down into smaller more manageable goals that you can focus on in the short term.

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For example after a disappointing performance review your long term goal might be to improve on your rating for next time, with the shorter term goals guided based on specific feedback of areas that need improving to help you to get there. You can then go about creating a plan of how you are going to get there and start working to tick the smaller goals off your list as you work towards the big one.


It’s difficult at the time to see making mistakes or facing challenges as a positive thing. But once you have a bit of distance from the situation it’s a little easier to see what good has come out of it. Even Kelly Clarkson said it too – What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger. If we didn’t have any challenges in life, things would be pretty boring. Plus they can teach us lessons that help us grow and move forward.

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A favourite question in job interviews is “tell me about the last time you made a mistake, how you overcame it and what you learnt from it”. There’s nothing wrong with making a mistake as long as you learn and grow from it. As Britney herself said in Overprotected, “I need to make mistakes just to learn who I am”.

Sanjay Sood-Smith is a food entrepreneur and former candidate on The Apprentice. You can find out more about his business Tuk In, which makes curry-in-a-naan, at

Follow him on Twitter at @sanjaysoodsmith

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