Brain behind a Psychological Safety Net

Psychological Safety for Creative Minds

By James Razko

Research shows that psychological safety in the workplace is essential to foster creativity, learning, and innovation. For this reason, mega innovators like Google, make sure their high performing teams have what is known as a psychological safety net. And, Regardless if you work in a group, you should have one too.

What is a Psychological Safety Net (PSN)?

A psychological safety net is a work environment where team members feel accepted, respected, and confident to take interpersonal risks, without fear of damaging their career or status. 

Who needs a psychological safety net? 

While these safety nets are usually thought of with teams in mind, you can and should adopt the practice and science for yourself, especially if your work requires innovation and creativity.

If you work alone or even if you work on a team, you also need to make sure you feel psychologically safe to ensure you are taking risks. Without personal risk-taking, countless ideas will never leave the ground for fear of falling. As Seth Godin put it “If failure is not an option, then neither is success.” So yes! You need a personal psychological safety net or PPSN

Here’s why everyone needs a PPSN

If you work alone or you are in a healthy work environment, the only person holding you back is your self, or more accurately, your negative self-talk. This kind of self-talk is getting in the way of your subconscious ideas. 

To appreciate how negative self-talk is holding you back, imagine yourself as two beings: your conscious self and non-conscious self. Your conscious self is your thinking voice or what you think of as you. And, your non-conscious self kindly works in the background doing almost everything necessary, including keeping you alive, generating new ideas and jumping away from snakes.

Your CEO Self

As it happens, your conscious self is like the CEO of a large company, who despite the thousands of workers who actually run the company often believes he or she is directing the entire show. But in reality, the CEO couldn’t accomplish anything without the workers. Likewise, you wouldn’t get very far without your non-conscious mind.

In a similar fashion, your conscious self, like a bad CEO can be an egotistical and abusive jerk. For example, when a subpar idea surfaces from your non-conscious (worker) mind, your CEO self will often retort— “idiot,” or perhaps even scream “get out of my office.’’ And, that’s not very nice. It also doesn’t make you non-conscious (worker) self very excited to swing by and offer new and risky ideas.

Considering you can not fire your subconscious, it’s best to play nice. 

This kind of negative self-talk is teaching your subconscious to be quiet, and considering every idea you’ve ever had came from this vital well, its a practice you need to stop right now.

Every time you call your self a bad name, your sending a signal to your subconscious to stop thinking up new ideas, and this is bad for business.

Be Nice

Instead of calling yourself negative names, get in the habit of saying something reinforcing like “good try old buddy” or “what ya got next?”. Stopping negative self-talk is one way to develop a personal psychological safety net.

The nicer you are to your non-conscious self the more likely it will be to take risks, and as we know risk equals reward. 

The More the Merrier

The more bad ideas your non-conscious mind has, the more likely you will be to strike gold. Every great inventor knows this. For example, Thomas Edison tried to 1,000 different designs before he finally invented the light bulb. If he had called himself negative names after every failure, he might have lived by candlelight for his entire life. 

To stop negative self-talk, be more like Thomas Edison, and reframe failure and risk. For example when a reporter asked Edison, 

“How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” Edison countered,

I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.

As they say “Those that reframe, obtain.” And yes, that is made up—by my worker self.


Provide yourself with a psychological safety net by stopping negative self-talk and reframing risk. Do this, and you will reap the rewards of a psychologically secure and ultimately more creative mind. Grab a PPSN now.

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