Panic to Peace Part 2Becoming a superior place to work

Dr. Sara Murdock
3 min readJul 23, 2021


There’s a lovely 2020 book called The 4 stages to Psychological Safety that builds off of the original 2018 book The Fearless Organization. If you’re a proud nerd like me, consider reading both.

A simple google search will deliver 1,001 infographics and a nice summary of core concepts. But beyond the basics, “safety” is a component of public health and is required for peak performance of all sorts.

>> Inclusion Safety

>> Learner Safety

>> Contributor Safety

>> Challenger Safety

Each term is followed by “safety” because that’s what’s needed for optimal performance. Panic, on the other hand, might even be “normal” to those who are acclimated to it, but panic robs us of the physiological state needed for a long life and world class work. Peace isn’t just a nice-to-have, like some sort of Bauhaus minimalist home decor.

Peace is a physiological state at the foundation of peak performance. You might be able to crank out a last-minute deadline in panic mode… but do you want to be world-class? You’re gonna need flow state, which is a sort of business or sports performance term for massive ingenuity in any discipline.

Peak performance >< peace optimization

And peace optimization requires a menage a trois between

Personal experience within an organization (feeling a sense of belonging)


Organizational design (inclusive policies and logistics and aesthetics)


Psychological safety (relational and interactive health).

Another way of stating this is that Psychological Safety lies within human interaction. It’s behavioral and relational. On the other hand, Inclusion is more about company policy and logistics, while belonging is more about lived experience and what it feels like to work somewhere.

Psychological Safety is related to both Inclusion and Belonging. For example, it doesn’t matter how much you invite someone to meetings if they’re placated whenever they speak up. And it doesn’t matter how great your weekly happy hours are if there’s pressure to agree all the time.

A common critique at this stage of the research:

“Wait, I thought we were talking about Psychological Safety, not DEIB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging). Can we talk about social science instead of social justice for once?”

Like every topic related to DEIB, success comes from integrating new ways of relating, person to person, not concepts.

A few tangible examples that put concepts into practice are the “safe space” and “whole self” trends at work. We’ll unpack these common attempts at Psychological Safety, Inclusion, and Belonging in part 3. The premise is that it’s OK to bring your authentic personality and complete identity to the office (or virtual office). No need to mask yourself or keep your quirky habits in check.

Sounds sublime. But no matter how much you say you have a safe space, words do not make it so. What goes wrong — and how to create a great place to work — is our topic for part 3…