Making Space for Taking Initiative In and Through Relationships ( a video)

If you want to become a Reflective Practitioner, acquire a Growth Mindset, or become a Lifelong, self-directed Learner, you have to take initiative in relationships, such as those with your teachers, advisors and peers. At the same time, it is through the relationships you develop as you pursue these goals—including your relationship with yourself—that you find support for the risk-taking and change that is involved in taking initiative in relationships. 

The schema in this youtube identifies six aspects of this process: negotiating power and standards (a “vertical” relationship); building peer (or “horizontal”) relationships; exploring differences and diversity among people); acknowledging that affect (i.e., emotion) is involved in what you are doing and not doing (and in how others respond to that); developing autonomy (so that you are neither too sensitive nor impervious to feedback); and clearing away distractions from other sources (present and past) so you can “be here now.” Do not expect to learn or change without moving among or being jostled by the interplay or tensions between these different considerations. They don’t all pull you in the same direction; or, at least, it is difficult to attend to them all simultaneously. You might focus on a few at any given time, but the challenge is to keep the other considerations in mind and address any tensions among them.

For example, to “be here now” might involve shaping relationships so that others can and want to help you by taking over responsibility of things that have been distracting you.

In summary, pay attention to the interplay between all six aspects as you make space for taking initiative in and through relationships.

(Adapted from Taylor, P. & J. Szteiter (2012) Taking Yourself Seriously: Processes of Research and Engagement)




About Peter J. Taylor
Peter Taylor teaches and directs programs on critical thinking, reflective practice, and science-in-society at the University of Massachusetts Boston. He studies the complexity of environmental and health sciences in their social context as well as innovation in teaching, group process, and interdisciplinary collaboration (see He is especially interested in conversations with others who are, in diverse ways, "troubled by heterogeneity" (

2 Responses to Making Space for Taking Initiative In and Through Relationships ( a video)

  1. Rhoda Maurer says:

    Peter – I especially appreciate the dynamic model that you played with at the end of this video. For those of us who prefer visual and kinesthetic learning approaches, this demonstrates the interplay much more tangibly than your previous models. And I’m left wondering what this might look like as a 3D art model.

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