Meet Urs Dieterich. He joined The Arc in 2018 and shares his insights on how knowing one’s limits is just as empowering as it is overwhelming.

Here are the interview questions:
00:17 Who are you and what are you building?
03:24 When have you hit the edge of YOUR comfort zone?
06:15 What was your biggest result since joining The Arc?
07:56 Outtakes

As bad as this has been as grateful I am to have gone through this, because I’m the person now that I am because of this. I don’t wanna be another person now.

As always, I like to start with the question: who are you and what are you building?

My name is Urs Dieterich, I’m an impact investment manager. I try to combine sustainability, environmental aspects, climate change, biodiversity with finance. For some weird reason, I’ve always wanted to ‘save the world’ in some way. I’ve spent many many months in various countries in the world, in a lot of tropical countries, working in forestry projects and climate projects, worked as a Youth Ambassador for the United Nations Forum on Forests. Really just always trying to find out how it worked, how can I, as a little person, understand this crazy world. This is where I realized that the ‘evil’ financial sector is a place where good can be done because, I think, it’s especially where things aren’t the way they should be maybe. Then I found out about the wonderful initiatives that are going on in conservation finance, in climate finance and the whole impact investment sector, therefore I started working for Infrastructure Investor four years ago and now I am where I am, focusing on sustainable investing.

One thing we always say at The Arc, ‘the bigger the pain, the more glorious the triumph’, and for me, you are a person who has so many triumphs. What’s driving you so much that this is something that you’ve put so crazily high on your priority list?

It really comes from a place where I wanna give a voice to animals and creatures that don’t speak up for themselves and they don’t have a lobby. I’m a realist enough to understand that there are more systemic issues that have to be addressed, and, therefore, I refrain from doing what I would love as well, which would maybe be a national park ranger, being out there all the time, and hiking… You know, I’m this huge tree hugger…

Like that old picture of you when you had dreads and everything…

I think it’s important to occupy different spaces in society every now and then, in order to understand each part. That gives you kind of a more dimensional picture of yourself and this groundedness of where you are. I wanna make visible how sustainable investments, in this case, can have a positive effect for rural communities, and wild habitat, and food security, and climate change, because I wanna just make a point that it can be done differently and that you can do these types of things coming from different angles.

Ok, Urs: when have you hit the edge of your comfort zone?

There’s a big challenge that has accompanied my life for the last three years and that is, I have found my personal limits by experiencing quite a severe overuse injury in my hands from doing this… [types on an imaginary keyboard] Playing piano on the computer all day… And, on top of that, just doing acrobatics. That has shattered some ideas I had about how far I can push myself, but it has also freed me from the idea that just by pushing harder and more, I can be more successful and do more in less time, and surprise people even more by showing that things that people thought couldn’t be done, actually can be done. So it just brought me to a journey to myself and understanding – there’re some internal things that you have to resolve, in order to get beyond this obstacle. To me, prioritization means, ‘I know what’s most important for me in my life and I have to make sure I accomplish that’. Everything else I can do on top but it really starts from within. Since realizing that, my relation to myself and how I generally interact with other people comes from a place of deep certainty and comfort.

So many people have this thing, ‘if it doesn’t feel exhausting – I’m not working’. How did you manage to reframe that for yourself, because I know it’s one of the demons I’m struggling with?

So, the process is not linear. It’s not rational either. Something that has stuck in my head is actually from The Arc last fall. Just being told, from people that don’t know you and therefore there’s no baggage involved, but it’s just people that see you the way you are and it’s kinda like an honest feedback, just the person I am, without doing anything else on top, is enough. Being okay with not being everywhere is also a very very big insight. Attaching your identity to things that you can control and detaching your identity from things that are currently not within your reach. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be ambitious but it means that you have to accept the things for what they are.

Out of curiosity, your biggest result since joining The Arc?

Something that I was told by a trainer, which is, instead of working yourself to death, being so machinistic about things, and just being the most time efficient and productive person there is, she said, ‘wouldn’t it make a lot more sense to lead a life that is actually desirable, that others look up to and say, ‘I wanna live the way this person does, he seems to have fun. Taking care of himself and being so grounded, he represents this love for nature in a realistic way, where he’s still part of human society and works for solutions instead of only criticizing it from the outside’.

Thanks for joining us, Urs.

If you’re curious about The Arc or about the community around it, do dare to get in touch with us. We’re always there, ready for something we call Coffee Chats. If you sign up for a Coffee Chat, you get a 45 to 60-minute one-on-one coaching session with one of our team members. We will find out together how the heck you can use your talents, passions, and values to build something exciting, what’s holding you back, and whether or not The Arc is the place for you to make that happen.

I’m wishing you an amazing rest of the day and see you around soon! Bye bye!

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