A transformational leadership experience

Lead Like a River is our 8-day transformational leadership experience in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco.

Ranked in The Times’ ‘Top 20 Life-Changing Experiences,’ it combines the power of nature with depth psychology and contemporary leadership theory to help you refocus your talents on a more purposeful and rewarding career.

This year’s dates: 1st August – 8th August
Number of participants: Maximum 10
To join this year’s group: Email Emily
Video: Artgym Founder and Co-Guide Eugene Hughes provides an overview of what to expect

About the course

What is calling you?

Lead Like a River is for people looking to make an important shift in their life

Behind you lie all your years of experience. The hard work you’ve done. All the obstacles you’ve overcome. The moments of self-doubt and the ones of pure, exhilarating triumph. For some it would be easy now just to keep moving ahead on this path. But you have realized that there is something else, something even greater that you must take on. Perhaps it’s something you see missing in the world and know that you can offer. Perhaps it’s a deep part of who you are that fills you with joy whenever you tap it but that you’ve never really been able to bring fully into your work. Maybe you know exactly what it is, and maybe you have a sense of it, but the details are still blurred. Whatever it is, you’re being called by something at once outrageously brave yet so right it feels like you’ve been waiting all your life to claim it.

It takes courage to step into the unknown. As much as you’re called forward, something still holds you back. Now, however, you’ve reached the point where it’s time to say Yes to that calling, that invitation, that necessity of being. Lead Like a River is the first step to taking on the life that’s calling you and making it real.

Making a greater contribution

Lead Like a River is for people who are ready to make a greater contribution to people and the planet.

Lead Like a River is an eight-day inner and outer adventure designed specifically to help you realise the greater contribution you can make to the world, push away the obstacles that are getting in your way, map-out your path forward and take your first steps in that direction.

Our journey takes place in the beautiful High Atlas Mountains, north of Marrakech, Morocco. The landscape, along with the exercises you’ll take part in each day will unveil what’s calling you and reveal the shifts you need to make to respond.

What you discover about yourself will surprise you, move you, and sometimes challenge you. Lead Like a River is no adventure holiday. It is, rather, an extraordinary opportunity to notice the world around you in new ways, to pay attention to what’s calling you and to give shape to the vision that’s within you.

You will learn from your past and your present in ways that will inspire and empower you to take brave steps forward. You will reimagine your own future in extraordinary ways.

Along the journey you will face your fears and your doubts. You’ll get to know both the heroes and the villains, the experts and the beginners, the cheerleaders and the cranks inside yourself—and you will find new ways to work with them all. And the mountains, the local Berber people, your two expert guides, and the other members of our small group will be an intrinsic part of your journey too.

Cited in The Times (UK) and SELF Magazine in the Top 20 Life-Changing Experiences, Lead Like a River is your call to the adventure of a lifetime—and your pathway to making the impact you truly want to make in this world.

A unique and powerful process

What is your greatest contribution?

Every day you will spend exploring a specific aspect of your life’s journey in depth: past, present and future. For the first three and a half days of the programme, sometimes you’ll work with the rest of the group in our comfortable, sunny space at the Kasbah du Toubkal and sometimes outdoors on solo walks along the ancient mountain paths and the river that flows through the Ait Mizane valley. By participating with the group, you identify those aspects of your self, your life and your ambitions that are most meaningful and authentic to you.

Lead Like a River’s method for personal transformation integrates working in nature, depth psychology and powerful creative techniques, to ensure you discover profound personal insight, craft your compelling vision for the next chapter in your life and commit to this new path that lies ahead. Guided by highly experienced facilitators, over the course of the eight days you craft the outcomes to meet your specific needs to lead your life like a river. However, Lead Like a River is not a programme in which the facilitators instruct you in what to do with your life or train you in a set of pre-defined tools and techniques. This is a highly experiential, immersive and creative process designed to empower you to craft the life you want to lead. Yes, the nature, the facilitators, the exercises and the rest of the group inspire, stretch, challenge and support you. But you are your best teacher and every day you are learning from your own intellect, your emotional intelligence, your intuition through deep reflection and personal insight. We guarantee you that through this process, you will discover the profound wisdom within you.

Because places are limited to a maximum of 10 participants, each Lead Like a River person is guaranteed a high level of support and commitment from each of the facilitators, who treat each individual’s safety, confidentiality and ambitions as their priority.

The solo experience

You will discover the profound wisdom within

On the fourth day of the programme, we will hike higher into the mountains, where we set up camp. The pinnacle of your Lead Like a River experience is your dawn-to-dusk solo the following day. Alone in a place of your choosing, with the peaks towering over you, the bleating of little goats tripping over the hills, the rush of the river tumbling over the rocks, the birds, the trees, and the ever-changing sky, you sink into a time of heightened awareness both of the land and of your own unique journey. In this nature, you reconnect with your own inner nature. As the hours open up and your attention to ordinary distractions—phone, food, appointments—slips away, you come home to yourself.

During the solo day, you may choose to create your own personal ceremonies, to symbolise the conclusion of one phase of your life and your readiness to step into the next phase. You may discover, quite unexpectedly, that you are suddenly able to put to rest an old hurt or regret that has long troubled you and to mark that passage in some spontaneous, profoundly meaningful way. You may fall asleep and be visited by a powerful dream. Most people choose to fast during the solo as a symbolic way of asking themselves, “What am I really hungry for?” The insights and images that are revealed to you this day will stay with you for a lifetime.

In late afternoon, when the sun begins to set, you return to our base camp for snacks and tea (after your fast, they taste good!), followed by a delicious welcome dinner prepared by our Berber guides. That night, we will share the stories of the day, a process that reveals even more of images, insight and meaning from your solo experience.

The journey home

The day after the solo, we hike back down to the Kasbah. Beginning that evening and for the remaining day and a half, you devote your attention to pinpointing exactly how you will go forth to make your calling a reality. You’ll work on making concrete commitments, clearing out any last obstacles and determining what tools you’ll need and the people who will support you. Like all the practices we use in Lead Like a River, this all important re-integration phase will include time spent in nature, highly effective exercises to rout out any self-criticism or self-doubt you may still be holding you back, and group processes where your contribution to the world is made more concrete through encouragement, support and celebration by the other members of the group.

Why Lead Like a River?

Lead Like a River will answer that call within you to lead a more meaningful, purposeful and creative life

A river is a powerful force—and, like a great leader, it exerts that power in many different ways. It starts as a simple trickle high up in the mountains, then it steadily gathers force and momentum. It makes its way skillfully, both guided by the terrain it flows through and creating paths of its own. It is unmatched in its ability to flow around obstacles. It can be deep in some places, light and shimmering in others. It changes constantly as it also transforms the ground it touches. It flows tirelessly until it reaches the sea, there to turn over all it’s carried so that future waves of energy may carry it over untold distances.

What if you could lead like a river? Where does the source of your inspiration lie? How do you gather force? What blocks you and how do you negotiate those obstacles? How do you use your energy to make a difference to the world around you? What is your great “sea,” those people of the future who are waiting for what you and only you can offer them?

Let nature be your teacher

By learning from nature you discover more of your own inner nature

By stepping out of your normal everyday environment into the unknown, you open the possibility to transformative shifts in your life. When you’re free from the constraints of the everyday, you become free to think the unthinkable. High up on a mountain, breathing the pure air, treading the paths that the local people have walked for centuries, your perspective shifts and dreams become more real.

Although previous outdoor experience is not required, trekking in the High Atlas requires an open mind and the courage to say yes to new adventures. What draws people to Lead Like a River is the desire to connect, through the natural environment, with your own unique nature. Working with Eugene and Trebbe, a group of fellow seekers from a variety of professions from around the world, and most of all, with wild nature itself, you find a new openness, eagerness, and inspiration to reflect on your path, past and present, and gain the clarity you need for your future. Moreover, our Berber hosts at the Kasbah du Toubkal and on our trek into the mountains become friends and guides, as they interweave attention to our group’s needs with their own cultural perspectives and practices.

As you experience the different aspects of the natural world and the people around you, you gain insights into what’s important to you and what needs to change. You affirm the inner resources you’ve always possessed and that are now required more than ever to create your new path in life.

About the Kasbah and the High Atlas Mountains

You will find peace and inspiration in a spectacular setting

There is a shared belief amongst the Berber people that the beauty of the High Atlas Mountains should be accessible to all who respect it.

Our base will be the Kasbah du Toubkal, acclaimed as one of the top eco-lodges in the world. This beautiful refuge is perched on a hillside amidst the mountains and offers stunning views of remote valleys, a silver ribbon of river, and the summit of Mount Toubkal, the highest mountain in North Africa.

You reach the Kasbah after a short 20-minute walk from the village of Imlil, following footpaths that weave through lush, irrigated terraces, apple orchards, and walnut groves, linking scattered villages where the Berber way of life has changed little for centuries, and traditional values and hospitality are unaffected by the outside world.

This mountain refuge is an extraordinary venture, the product of an imaginative Berber and European partnership. Using traditional building methods, they transformed the home of a feudal official into a beautiful and ecologically sustainable haven. It provides peace and inspiration in a spectacular and remote location, whilst providing the best of modern comfort and delicious meals. The Kasbah continues to be a community operation, run by local people. They have also created schools to provide local girls with an education.

About your guides

Eugene Hughes is passionate about the power of imagination to create positive change, both within ourselves, and in the world. He is a Depth-Psychotherapist, and Chief Executive at artgym; a multi-award winning organisation dedicated to arts- based learning and development, working with some of the world’s leading brands inc. Adidas, BBS, Sony Music. As well as guiding leaders and their teams, Eugene has led many creative collaborations between corporations, charities and local communities to drive social change. Most recently, he directed the documentary ‘The Moving Theatre’ which won 10 international awards including, the UK’s National Film Awards. Eugene is based in London, UK.

Trebbe Johnson is the founder and executive director of Radical Joy for Hard Times, a non-profit organisation devoted to finding and making beauty in wounded places. She is the author of Radical Joy for Hard Times: Finding Meaning and Making Beauty in Earth’s Broken Places and two other books, as well as numerous articles that explore the relationship between people and nature. Since 1995 Trebbe has been offering programmes worldwide that combine the mythic quest, the personal search for meaning, and the discovery of wisdom and insight through nature. She is on the board of the United Nations Coalition for Global Citizenship. She lives in Pennsylvania, in the eastern U.S.

How do I register?

Lead Like a River is for people who are ready to make a greater contribution to people and the planet

To register or for further details please contact:

Emily Stokes
Executive Assistant, Artgym
+44 (0)207 033 3777

Or please feel free to contact the guides directly. They would love to hear from you and discuss the programme in full detail:

Eugene Hughes
M: ++ 44 (0)791 505 4376

Trebbe Johnson
M: +(1) 570 396 0293

Eugene Hughes and Trebbe Johnson
The total cost for the programme is £3,500UK, €3,950EU or $4500USD.

The entire process offers:

  • Over 70 hours expert guidance and facilitation
  • Pre-retreat one-to-one consultation with each of the Facilitators
  • Post-retreat one-to-one follow-up consultation
  • Pre-and Post-process virtual group sessions
  • All accommodation including all meals and refreshments for the entire 8-day experience (at Kasbah du Toubkal and the remote mountain lodge during the trek)
  • All transfers to and from Marrakech airport
  • All trekking costs and equipment.
  • All course materials.

To reserve your place a deposit of £500UK, €750EU or $750US is due upon registration with the balance payable eight weeks prior to your arrival date.

Please note that spaces are limited to a maximum of 10 places for each programme.

If you can’t make these dates, we will be running further programmes in 2019 and 2020. We recommend that you register your interest now at the contact details above so that we can keep you informed as new dates are released.

Programme Agenda

Lead Like a River starts on 1st August and ends on 8th August. Because Lead Like a River is as much an inner journey as an outer journey through nature, we strongly advise participants to plan to limit your virtual connections with others during the programme. Please do not even think of arriving late or leaving early!

Day 1
What brings you here?
Learning from your path, past and present.

Day 2
How your energy flows
Exploring what boosts and blocks your energy and the impact your energy has on the world around you.

Day 3
The whole of you
Acknowledging, appreciating and working with all the different parts of who you are.

Day 4
What calls you now?
Getting clearer on how to make a difference to people and the planet.

Day 5
The solo experience
Solo time spent from dawn to dusk in deep reflection in the High Atlas Mountains.

Day 6
The leader returns
Making the transition from the leader you were to the leader you are called to be.

Day 7
How your contribution feeds the world
Defining the different practices you need to make a shift – and working through the obstacles that stand in your way.

Day 8
Crossing the threshold
Committing to the contribution you want to make to the world.