George Leonard, a native of Georgia, graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1948 with a Bachelor of Arts degree and went on to earn Doctor of Humanities degrees from John F. Kennedy University, Lewis and Clark College and Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center. When he joined the editorial team at Look Magazine in 1953, a transformative path was unfolding that would not only change his life, but those of an entire culture.
Reassigned to San Francisco in 1962, George was completing a five-month-long journey of discovery for a major magazine article, interviewing brain researchers, psychologists, psychiatrists, biologists, philosophers and theologians on human potential when he met fellow ITP co-founder, Michael Murphy at a dinner party. Michael’s Esalen Institute had opened three years prior, and both he and George were passionate about tapping into our shared human potential.
A Partnership in the Human Potential Movement
It was during that first encounter in February of 1965, that they committed to a partnership in human transformation, and in the brainstorming sessions and discussions that followed, they launched the human potential movement. George would go on to become deeply involved in Esalen Institute.
His childhood in a segregated South motivated him to begin a series of interracial transformative experiences in partnership with Price Cobbs, held at Esalen’s coastal setting. The 24-hour encounter not only pushed the boundaries of social reform, but also emphasized the importance of long-term practice for transformation to take hold.
During his seventeen years as senior editor for Look Magazine, George covered the Civil Rights Movement, politics, foreign affairs and social change, while winning an unprecedented number of national awards for education writing. Driven by the belief that all of us have untapped potential to be our best selves, George became even more involved in the Human Potential Movement as vice president, and then president, of Esalen Institute.
In 1970, he took up the practice of aikido, and would go on to earn a fifth-degree black belt and co-found the internationally known aikido school, Aikido of Tamalpais. George studied not only aikido as a martial art but also what his first teacher, Robert Nadeau, called “energy awareness.” He began giving workshops in 1972, developing it into Leonard Energy Training (LET) in 1974. Through these experiences, George began laying the groundwork for Integral Transformative Practice.
George has authored twelve books, including The Transformation, Education and Ecstasy, The Silent Pulse, The Ultimate Athlete, and Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-term Fulfillment. His adventures along the human frontiers of the 1960s are described in his memoir, Walking on the Edge of the World. He also co-authored The Life We Are Given with Michael Murphy. George Leonard is past-president of the Association for Humanistic Psychology, president emeritus of Esalen Institute and ITP International.
Visit our ITP Library for more of George’s presentations on the path of practice and realizing your full potential.