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Wisdom Retreats

 Our retreat beach, right after dawn: Wrightsville Beach, NC - a place for relaxed philosophical conversation and fresh new light for the issues of your life.

Our retreat beach, right after dawn: Wrightsville Beach, NC - a place for relaxed philosophical conversation and fresh new light for the issues of your life.

Coming Soon Again, Late Fall 2018

Open but Limited Enrollment
Morris Institute for Human Values
Wrightsville Beach, NC
EMAIL Tom at

"The Extraordinary Life Retreat is, indeed, extraordinary. To take some time to consider the most profound truth is to invest in your own achievement and your own happiness. And, if that's not enough, you're on a beautiful Atlantic beach under the tutelage of one of the most engaging, entertaining and wise people you'll ever meet. Please, don't miss it."
Jack W. Hayhow, Jr.
Author, Wisdom of the Flying Pig
Founder, Opus Communications, Kansas City

 Mid day high tide at a narrow stretch of the beach, which overall is seven miles long and mainly very wide. Fences protect some of the white dunes.

Mid day high tide at a narrow stretch of the beach, which overall is seven miles long and mainly very wide. Fences protect some of the white dunes.

New from The Morris Institute

For the Fun 30 second Google Search Story of one retreat: Click Here.

If you've ever heard Tom Morris speak at a business meeting or a big convention, it's our hope that you've experienced an entertaining and energizing hour of ideas that you knew right away you could use. Many people who have first come across Tom's ideas and presentation style in such a context, and many who have read his books, have contacted us over the years asking for retreats where they could explore the greatest wisdom for life and work more extensively.

After a career of teaching at Notre Dame, and two decades of serving many of the world's most successful companies in closed, private sessions for executives and top performers, Tom came to believe that now is the time for him to provide a number of personal, informal, intensive, and deeply enjoyable small retreats. Our need for powerful wisdom has never been greater. And Tom takes tremendous pleasure in bringing the best wisdom of the ages into people's lives in a practical and profound way.

We're pleased to announce that The Morris Institute for Human Values is hosting Wisdom Retreats on a variety of exciting topics, as dates become available on Tom's calendar. In each retreat, typically between ten and thirty participants will work intensively with Tom, and sometimes with one of his nationally known senior associates, as well as occasional guest experts, to explore life-changing wisdom that can be implemented in every facet of our lives. The retreat focus, across topics, will be on ideas that have stood the test of time and how they can best be used in the challenges we face today.

Come and Have a Great Time

Come to stimulate your mind in new ways with your colleagues, or with people from across industries and around the nation, explore deep and practical wisdom, and walk along one of the most peaceful beaches on the east coast, as you talk over the truly important areas of your life and work with Tom and Senior Fellows of the Morris Institute. Dig deep, broaden your vision, and perhaps resolve some long-standing issues in your business or personal life. Plant the seeds of new ideas, and leave the beach refreshed. We?re sure you?ll want to come back again for another retreat and a new set of issues.

 The view from a room. The packed sand at low tide allows for great walking and thinking.

The view from a room. The packed sand at low tide allows for great walking and thinking.

To see the new short video on our location, click here:

The Morris Institute Wisdom Retreat Beach and Hotel.

To see a quick slide show on one of our early retreats, click here:

Retreat Slide Show.

For a Washington Post essay on our beach, click here:

Our Beach for Philosophy.

Retreat Topics

Some retreat sessions will revolve around the simple but powerful philosophy of success and excellence developed from the world's great wisdom traditions by Tom, and first brought to public attention in such books as True Success, The Art of Achievement, If Aristotle Ran General Motors, The Stoic Art of Living, andIf Harry Potter Ran General Electric. Other retreats will involve looking at issues of excellence, leadership, personal growth, life transition, the challenge of change, happiness, and individual effectiveness, by consulting select ancient texts and modern insights that go far beyond the normal academic or business school curriculum. The joy and power of ideas will be experienced in every session. The goal of these retreats is to be transformative.

Over the long run, there will be a regular cycle of Morris Institute Wisdom Retreats involving 4-6 different topics, with special subject matter retreats added now and then on both professional and personal issues. At present, we offer two different retreats. There will be short, recommended pre-readings for each.

 You don't have to be at the beach to be happy, but it sure helps. Come explore what it takes to live an extraordinary life, and gain new insights for riding the waves of change in our time.

You don't have to be at the beach to be happy, but it sure helps. Come explore what it takes to live an extraordinary life, and gain new insights for riding the waves of change in our time.

The Extraordinary Life Retreat
True Success and Happiness in Times of Change

This retreat will be built around the idea of what it is to create an extraordinary life of proper success and deep happiness. We'll ask what the extraordinary is in our work and our personal lives, and we'll seek to identify its contours as they apply to each of us. We'll explore how we understand personal success, what the great thinkers of the past have said about satisfying achievement, whether professional or personal, and how our goals and habits may change as we move through the different stages of life.

We'll dig deep into Tom's most popular and practical framework of ideas, The 7 Cs of Success, and take a closer look at the hotly disputed topic of personal happiness. One goal will be to see how real success and enduring happiness can arise in times of great change.

We'll broach issues on the psychology of happiness and positive thinking, and examine the nature of the 'flow' experience in sport, work, and life. Our goal is to see what some of the most profound and practical thinkers have had to say about creating an extraordinary life.



"Thank you, thank you, thank you for the opportunity and really the gift of time to talk, share and be. In our busy lives of work, two young kids, volunteering, etc. it was a true gift to be part of your amazing weekend in such a glorious spot. If my family was open, I could see myself picking up our home and bringing it to Wrightsville Beach!"
Janice Foley


"I didn't know what to expect from the retreat, but I left with great insight and energy. It provided a venue to learn new ideas and process these with a diverse group of forward thinkers. The retreat challenged me and empowered me to be a better person, personally and professionally."
Lori Greer


"Dr. Morris has the unique ability to make seemingly perfect sense of some of life's more complex questions. These 3 days were incredibly helpful for me in my personal and professional life as we processed through real ideas and feedback. I've found myself reflecting back on the conversations and using them in my everyday interactions. You can't leave this weekend and not be rejuvenated."
Matt Ham


"What I really liked about the retreat was the small intimacy of the group. Both Mary and Tom were extremely hospitable and made everyone feel welcome immediately. Everyone was there because they wanted to be there to learn and share, which I believe made a huge difference. Everyone attending had something unique and interesting to share, which made for very engaging conversation the entire weekend.

The retreat really left me with many things to ponder. The topics truly challenged my way of thinking about my life, what my life has been up to this point, and how I am the only one who can decide where my life is going. It has really helped me put things into perspective.

It was an absolutely wonderful weekend and I would recommend it to anyone with a desire to look deep within to try to achieve an extraordinary life. Thank you so much!"
Kris Pollock

 Some old books are worth reading and discussing anew. The Leadership Retreat tackles several classics.

Some old books are worth reading and discussing anew. The Leadership Retreat tackles several classics.


The Leadership Retreat
The Perils and Possibilities of Talent, Skill, and Power

This retreat will revolve around reading and discussing several short, classic explorations of how top achievers and people in leadership positions can go wrong, with the purpose in mind of getting clear on what it takes to go right. The powerful cautionary tales for greatly talented and highly intelligent people that we'll explore include the oldest leadership story we have, the short and powerful Epic of Gilgamesh, the Anglo-Saxon classic of Beowulf, and Mary Shelley's remarkable short novel, Frankenstein, augmented by a short powerful essay on the life of a leader by Socrates' top practical student, Xenophon ('Zen-o-fon').


Supporting lessons will be drawn from such classic sources as Don Quixote, Moby Dick, The Prince, and Xenophon's profound exploration of leadership in action, "The Education of Cyrus," a forgotten text that the modern pioneering management guru Peter Drucker once called "the greatest leadership book ever written."


Corporate Retreats

Special topics are available for private corporate retreats. Contact for more details.


Pricing and Schedules

All open enrollment retreats on Wrightsville Beach are now value priced at $1,000 per person for participants who are 10 years or more beyond college graduation ("SENIOR PLACE"), or alternatively, that same time beyond the outset of their first full time job, and only $600 per person for those who are less than 10 years out from graduation, or entry into the workforce, whichever came first ("JUNIOR PLACE"). Current college students are eligible for this fee. This special low cost entry option has been made possible by an underwriting benefactor. The cost will cover the educational fee for all sessions, the opening dinner, and break snacks. Attendees will make their own room arrangements at a special low price, and cover other food on their own, onsite. The Holiday Inn Resort, an attractive, convenient, and very comfortable hotel on the beach run by a North Carolina hotelier, is offering us deeply discounted room rates for the standard two-night stay. All rooms have water views, either an ocean view, or a very nice bay view.


Limited Fellowships

Potential attendees can also apply for one of the up to two fellowship positions that will be offered at some of the retreats. A retreat fellowship will cover part or all of the educational fee, except for the opening dinner. A fellowship attendee will be responsible, in addition to whatever portion of the education fee is not covered, for travel, room, and all additional food costs through the hotel, or incurred elsewhere on the island. For consideration, email, title your email "Retreat Fellowship" and make your case in 1,000 words or less.

If you'd like to help the Institute sponsor fellowships to these retreats, making more available, please email with the email title "Fellowship Sponsorship Inquiry."


A Typical Schedule

Retreat attendees will be asked to arrive prior to an opening dinner and a short welcome session. The next day, there will be morning and afternoon sessions, with some time mid-day for walks on the beach or other forms of exercise, relaxation, and reflection, with later informal discussions continuing into the evening. The following day, there will be morning sessions and a mid-day send-off. Some retreats will be held during the week, and others on weekends, beginning with Friday dinner.


Our Next Retreat Dates


The next scheduled Wisdom Retreat dates will be posted soon.

Our Location

National Wisdom Retreats will be held on Wrightsville Beach, just a few miles from the sound stages of Screen Gems in Wilmington, NC - one of the top motion picture filming locations in America. If you come with a spouse or guest, you might even want to spend an extra day or two to explore the quiet beaches, historic streets, harbors, museums, great restaurants, and charming shops of the lower Cape Fear River. Come join us at an ocean front resort with inspiring views from every room and enjoy a time of personal reflection and growth you?ll never forget.


Getting Here

Wrightsville Beach, just outside Wilmington, is located in the southeastern corner of North Carolina, at the eastern end of Interstate 40.

By Air

Its airport (ILM) has commercial jet service from US Airways many times a day nonstop from Charlotte, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC. There are also numerous jets daily from Atlanta, and some from New York City, on Delta. It's little more than a two-hour drive from RDU International Airport, and is about an hour and a half from the Myrtle Beach airport. In addition, Wilmington is an active destination for corporate and private jets, served by Air Wilmington. The resort for our retreats is located approximately ten miles from the airport, a drive of about twenty minutes. A complimentary shuttle service is provided for guests by the hotel. Taxi service and rental cars are also available.


Our Retreat Leaders

Tom Morris - Host and main presenter at each retreat.


Tom Morris and a Morris Institute Fellow will typically run each retreat. Tom will host some solo. Fellow Philosopher David O'Connor will join Tom in leading other Wisdom Retreats.


David O'Connor - Senior Fellow.


Dr. David O'Connor draws on the wisdom of the ancients to illuminate the challenges of the modern world. Dave is a Senior Fellow of the Morris Institute for Human Values, and his lectures to business and civic groups include international engagements in such places as Sicily, Barcelona, and Istanbul. Dave's famous lecture course at the University of Notre Dame, "Ancient Wisdom and Modern Love," has been featured in O: The Oprah Magazine and Self Magazine.

After undergraduate work at the University of Chicago and the University of Notre Dame, Dr. O'Connor earned his Ph.D. at Stanford University, and has been a faculty member in the Departments of Philosophy and of Classics at Notre Dame since 1985. Dave's wife Beth is a developmental psychologist, and a consultant in early childhood education and in toy design. They have three daughters.


The least important things, we think about and talk about the most; the most important things, we think about and talk about the least.  

- Socrates.

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