Jason and Rainer talk about strength finding 2.0 and living your best life in retirement.

Rainer Kunz has been training leaders for over 40 years. He received his doctorate in education in 1993. His extensive experience as a university professor, pastor and coach uniquely equip him to serve a wide variety of clients. Rainer currently teaches at Brandman University, Vincennes University and Olympic College. Through his company, Leadership Training and Coaching Solutions, Rainer regularly provides leadership training courses for the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, the Naval Submarine Base at Bangor, and the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Keyport, Washington. Rainer loves to inspire groups as a teacher and conference speaker. He is passionate about coaching and training leaders and their teams around the world. Helping individuals and organizations reach their goals is his calling. Rainer and his wife, Susan, have been married for 36 years and have five children.

To learn more visit www.rainerkunz.com

Below is the full transcript:


Announcer: Welcome back, America, to Sound Retirement Radio where we bring you concepts, ideas and strategies designed to help you achieve clarity, confidence and freedom, as you prepare for and transition through retirement. And now, here is your host, Jason Parker.

Jason: America, welcome back to another round of Sound Retirement radio. So glad to have you tuning in this morning, we have an excellent show lined up for you. This is episode number 171, and we’re going to be talking about your strengths as you prepare to retire and maybe transition through retirement.

Jason: As you know, we like to get the morning started right and we do that two ways around here, the first is by renewing our mind and then I’ve got a joke for you to share with the grandkids. The verse comes to us from Galatians 6:9, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” That’s great. And then, if you’re going to visit with the grandkids I’ve got a joke for you … Actually, actually, before I share the joke, let me … No, no. Okay, I’ll go ahead and share the joke here. Why couldn’t the pirate play cards? Because he was always on the deck. Always on the deck. Okay, you guys don’t appreciate these as much as I do.

Jason: Okay, episode 171. I’ve got a special guest lined up for us. Today my guest is Rainer Kunz, he has been training leaders for over 40 years, he received his doctorate of education in 1993, his extensive experience as a university professor, pastor and coach uniquely equip him to serve a wide variety of clients. Rainer currently teaches at Bremen University and Olympic College. Through his company, leadership training and coaching solutions, Rainer regularly provides leadership training courses for the Puget Sound Naval shipyard, the Naval Submarine base at Bangor and the Naval Sea Undersea Warfare Center in Keyport, Washington. Rainer loves to inspire groups as a teacher and conference speaker, he is passionate about coaching and training leaders and their teams around the world. Helping individuals and organizations reach their goals is his calling. Rainer and his wife, Susan, have been married for 36 years and have five children. Rainer Kunz, welcome to Sound Retirement radio. What a bio, man.

Rainer: Thank you. Thank you much. Five kids and zero grandkids, what’s up with that? I’m waiting.

Jason: Gee whiz.

Rainer: Good to be with you.

Jason: I’m so excited to have you on. So, just a little bit of background for listeners, you and I met because you came and spoke at a men’s retreat and I found that so insightful, and one of the things, one of my big takeaways from that event, was you taught to lead with, or to serve with intensity. To serve with intensity. It really got me thinking about the people most important in my life that I need to serve like my wife and my kids and the people that work with our company. Awesome.

Jason: As we were sitting at lunch one day, you were sharing with me how you do a lot of coaching to help people understand their strengths and build upon those instead of trying to overcome their weaknesses.

Rainer: Absolutely.

Jason: So, we need to give some credit to?

Rainer: Certainly. The father of Strength Finders is a man named Don Clifton, who also heads up the Gallup organization, and he developed the Strength Finders’ inventory. I’m also indebted to Marcus Buckingham, a world-renowned author, speaker for his work in the area of strengths.

Jason: Awesome. You’ve had this amazing career, I mean you’ve been a pastor, you’re a speaker, you coach people, you do leadership training, and I wanted to talk to you specifically starting about understanding strengths. The reason for this, and the reason I was inspired to have you on the show, we have a lot of people who are getting ready to make a huge transition in their life, they’re going from working where their identity has been their work for so many years into transitioning into retirement, and we want them to have just an amazing experience with that. What are some of the things you’ve learned by helping coach people to understand their strengths and work towards their strengths?

Rainer: Great question. What I find consistently is that so many of us, no matter what age we are, are not playing to our strengths, playing to our potential. Most of us, obviously, are responsible adults, our work, our family, other things, require us to do things that we may not like very much, they may be draining, those are our weaknesses. We do them because we’re good people, but if we could focus more and more on our strengths and be given the freedom to do that, how much more fulfilling would that be? Life-giving. We can make a greater impact, whether we’re just starting out as a teenager or are well into the retirement years, every moment counts and so why not play to your strengths, do what you do best, enjoy it, be fulfilled and thereby, have a greater impact in the world.

Jason: Yeah, that’s awesome. I had shared with you, there’s a lot of these different assessments, self-assessments, out there to try to understand … Everybody on my team, when they joined our team, we have them complete a disc profile assessment. I’ve personally done the Kolbe A Index, so you told me about the Strengths Finder and I completed it, and I was surprised by the results. Some of my top five were belief, communication, being analytical, being positive, being futuristic, but the belief one really kind of surprised me, but I know that that’s one that you share as well. So, for people that have, one of their strengths, their number one strengths is something like belief, how would you take this information that you’ve received, that you say, okay, this is a strength, and then how do you apply it? I guess that’s a part I’ve always struggled with when I’ve completed these assessments.

Rainer: You bet. The first step, obviously, take the assessment you did, read the description of your strength and then I would advise, figuring out what specific niche or part of that description applies to you best. It might be a little bit different for you and I, but I think it’s safe to say when it comes to belief you and I are very similar in that we have a core set of principles and values that guide everything we do, business, family, money, all of it. So, my encouragement to you in living it out is unpack that with someone, a trusted friend, your spouse, and figure out how you can spend more time playing to that strength in your workday, in your personal life and get rid of those things slowly that we can do that aren’t your strengths that drain you. Maybe delegate that to someone who’s better at it so that you can focus on something like belief, which is all about living life with purpose, encouraging others to have strong convictions, that kind of thing. Does that make sense, Jason?

Jason: It does. One of the things it, I was actually inspired by this a bit when I completed the assessment, one of the things it said was communication was one of my strengths, which makes sense because, I mean, I get energy out of doing something like this radio show, the podcast, I get energy when I get to speak to large groups of people. When I get to tell stories, people often times will teem me after they see me on TV, they’ll say, “Boy, you did a really good job on TV,” and I’m always beating myself up, thinking that I’m not doing good at all on those things.

Rainer: That’s an interesting part, if I can interrupt, often, what our strengths are, they’re obvious to others, but you and I think, that’s no big deal or I’m not very good at it. It’s a blind spot, but it’s obvious you’re good at it, and it’s probably something that you’ve had deep within you for your whole life.

Rainer: The other thing that we find out for strengths is that communication strength, will probably continue on till the day you go home to be with the Lord. They don’t change that much. Now, they can be developed, you can get better at it, but they are obvious to others. In my time of our friendship growing and me getting to know you, it’s obvious to me you have one of those great, great communication strengths.

Jason: When I saw that printed, though, on the paper, it empowered me.

Rainer: Good.

Jason: Yeah. I thought, boy, I need to stop telling myself that this is something that I’m not good at, because often times that is what I’ll say because I always want to be better.

Jason: I think the real value, Rainer, is, again, you get this information and then, like you say, to be able to unpack that with somebody that’s familiar with the process, the coaching that you do, I think can be so powerful for people. I’m actually, personally looking forward to going through this exercise with you so that you can look at these top five strengths of mine, and I realized that the work that I do really compliments these strengths. For our listeners though, they’re getting ready, again, they’re making this huge transition … Many of them said, Jason, they’ve worked since they were teenagers, now they’re realizing that their identity is not their work and there’s this amazing opportunity for them to really focus and be the best person, live the best life they can live for this next phase of life-

Rainer: Yeah, golden opportunity. Go ahead.

Jason: So, what are some of the things you would say to those folks? How do we capture the most life potential?

Rainer: I would tell anyone, but especially those heading in toward retirement or already retired, you’re going to make your greatest contribution and be the most productive and the most resilient and creative and innovative when you figure out how to play to your strengths. I meet retirees and those near retirement all the time, who want to lead fulfilled lives, I mean we all want that deep down, they want to make an impact, they want to live a life of purpose, and yet for their whole life they’ve been maybe pushed, or forced, or felt they had to do the right thing, and it got them into areas that were really draining. They did the responsible thing, but they were really focusing on their weaknesses and not on their strength. Now that they’re retired, they have, as I said, a wonderful opportunity, all kinds of time to focus on how they’re wired and play to those strengths and get rid of those things that weaken them. That’s, of course, what the world wants from them, that’s what their family wants, they want them to be fulfilled playing their strengths, and from a spiritual perspective, certainly, that’s what God wants. He has wired us a certain way, given us spiritual gifts, talents, skills and strengths, and we need to utilize those and not worry about those things that we’re not gifted with. No one has all the goods.

Jason: Yeah. What are some of the telltale signs of a strength?

Rainer: I like to say it this way, that when you look at the things in your life that are life-giving versus draining, chances are good that that is a strength. You feel powerful when you’re doing it, you’re in control, you feel confident, competent, sometimes, Jason, even magnificent. You may be physically tired after doing it, but you’re energized, you can’t wait to do it again, you do it all day long even if they didn’t pay you. Those are some telltale signs of a strength.

Rainer: In fact, could I suggest an exercise to your listener?

Jason: Yeah.

Rainer: Take out a piece of paper and write three sentences that begin with the following words, I feel strong when, I feel strong when, and whatever comes into your mind, write it down three different times, three different things, chances are good those are part of your strengths. Study them, own them and then carry around, here’s another suggestion, carry around a notepad or use your smart phone, and make some notes in the coming week whenever you do an activity that you anticipate with relish and joy, you’re looking forward to it, write that down. Or, you’re interested, or intrigued by it, you find yourself thinking about it a lot, find those patterns.

Rainer: Of course, I would strongly recommend you take the Strength Finder inventory, and we’ll talk about how they can do that, it’s very simple, online, and see if what your research … If that jives with what your strengths are. I think you’ll find a direct correlation.

Jason: Yeah. I had the good fortune to have a mentor, and one of the things I absolutely have learned from that relationship is that one relationship can change your entire life, and so one of the things I’m excited about, as people are transitioning into retirement, is they have this lifetime of experience and wisdom to be able to become mentors for people. Actually, I think the work that you’re doing is very exciting, to be able to have all of these strengths, this lifetime of wisdom that you’ve collected and be able to coach people on, to be able to speak to large groups of people about to how to inspire them to work better together. Because you’ve had the opportunity to lead organizations yourself, what are some of the things you’ve learned in that experience that you … If you could just maybe impart one bit of wisdom to people who are leading other people right now, what’s the most important thing-

Rainer: Let me tie it back to the thing you just mentioned, having a mentor, I had the rare privilege, back when I was 30 years old to sit down and have a private conversation with the great man of God many of your listeners will know, Dr. Howard Hendricks, and Dr. Hendrix listened to me patiently as I talked about all these things that were on my mind, trying to figure out which direction to go in life and at the end of it all, he asked this question, and this is what I would encourage your listeners to consider, he said, “Rainer, there are many things you can do, but what must you do?” So, if you’re trying to figure out how to maximize your potential at work or in retirement, figure out what must you do instead of trying to be all over the map.

Rainer: A coach, whether it be formal coaching or informal, can draw that out of you and help you figure it out. A coach is very different than a mentor or a counselor. Counselors, and we need them, I’m not putting them down, tend to help us deal with past hurts, and we need therapists like that. A mentor tells us what to do, it’s more of a teaching role. But a coach draws you out and helps you discover your own answers by asking powerful questions, by practicing active listening and then allowing you to come up with your own action plans. That’s what I would recommend for anyone who’s unpacking their Strength Finder report, as you are doing right now.

Jason: I want to ask you about some of those powerful questions because I love a good question, but before I do want to make sure our listeners know if they want to learn more about the work that you’re doing or if they’re interested in having you be a speaker at an event, what’s the best way for them to learn more about you?

Rainer: I’ll give you three things, website is rainerkunz.com, so R-A-I-N-E-R K-U-N-Z.com. They can email me at rkunz@wavecable.com, that’s R as in Robert, K as in kite, U as in united, N as in Nancy, Z as in zebra, @wavecable.com. Here’s my number, 360-362-3698. I’d be glad to chat with your folks anytime.

Jason: Awesome. We’ll put a link in the show notes to your website as well so people, if they want to reach out to you-

Rainer: And the name of the company, by the way, is Leadership Training and Coaching Solutions. There’s another identifier that they can Google. Go ahead.

Jason: Questions, my mentor, the thing that drove me crazy about him, but I loved about him at the same time, was I’d go to him with questions and he would never give me an answer. He would always ask me another question. What he taught me was to find the person that had the better question, not the guy that had all the answers.

Rainer: I couldn’t agree more.

Jason: What are some of the questions that you find that are powerful questions to ask people?

Rainer: Yes, and your mentor obviously was a very wise person and probably, was acting more like a coach even than a mentor. One of the go-to questions that I ask of everyone that I meet, when I teach back in the university world as well as in the training classroom, is if time and money were no object, what would you love to be doing right now? Tell me what you enjoy. It usually makes them ponder, think, it usually brings a smile to their face, and chances are good that however they answer, that’s going to be tied to one of their top five strengths.

Rainer: Another way of asking is, what are you passionate about? What do you think about? Chances are good that God has planted that desire in your heart and has wired you and shaped you to do that type of thing in life.

Jason: What do you find are some of the barriers that keep people from living their best life from working within these strengths?

Rainer: Great question. Probably, the number one, even for retirees, is busyness. I hear this all the time, “I retired and now I’m more busy than ever.” It goes by different names, some have called it hurry sickness, but busyness would be a big one.

Rainer: Another one is fear. We could go on for hours about the fears that hold us all back, and so fear of discovering new things, trying new things, breaking out of the rut that we’re in, shaking things up a little bit, “maybe I need to remove some things from my life that have hindered me from making a maximum impact”.

Rainer: A third barrier would be feelings of inadequacy, so feeling like I don’t have much to contribute, I’m not good at this, maybe some low self-esteem, and that can come from so many different sources. And then a related one, Jason, would be focusing too much on the past, saying, “Well, I’ve always done this, I can’t really turn over a new leaf. I don’t want to learn something new or I can’t,” so preoccupation with the past, letting that tie you down. Those are some barriers that I would identify.

Jason: One of the things I found, I was scared to death to do public speaking for a long time, I mean when we first started doing all this I couldn’t stand in front of a group of people and tell them what my name was, I mean it just was really, really hard for me. I have since learned that I can actually do that and I can do it pretty well, and I’ve come to learn that it’s actually one of my five strengths, communication. Is it possible that the things we fear the most, could that be an indicator that that’s something you should be doing? Can fear be an indicator that that’s a strength?

Rainer: It can be, and I would word it may even a little different, this is a more common scenario, we don’t think it’s a strength, so it’s a blind spot, but it’s obvious to others that it’s a strength. So, in your case, when I first met you, I even saw you speak in public, it was obvious to me that communication was either in your top five or certainly in your top 10. You’re good at it, you’re a natural, but you may have, in the past, downplayed it and said, “No, it’s no big deal.” That’s very typical when people discover their strengths. Others have seen it for a long time, it’s obvious, they don’t see it, it’s a great discovery, and now you can move forward and develop it even further because no one’s 100% at it, no one’s perfect, so there’s always room for growth.

Jason: That’s what’s exciting.

Rainer: The cool thing is you’re going to be motivated to work on it because it is your strength, you’ll want to get better, you’ll spend time on it and that’s what’s so exciting. It’s energizing.

Jason: So for people out there that want to understand these five strengths, how do they do this? How do they get that information?

Rainer: Step one is I would recommend that they get the book Strength Finders 2.0 by Don Clifton, available everywhere because it’s a bestseller, make sure you get a new copy, not a used copy, inside the book is a sealed envelope with a code in it, it directs you to the website, you fill in the code and you take the Strength Finder assessment. At the end of it, you can print out a report and it will show your top five. So, once you’ve printed that out, I would thoroughly read it, I would read the corresponding chapters in the book, understand your strengths, I would also then share it with those who know me best and ask them how accurate do you think this is, where do you think this fits, there’s great power in sharing it with others and unpacking it.

Rainer: Another helpful way is to talk to a coach, formal or informal, have him or her ask you powerful questions and help you come up with action plans on how to develop those strengths. That can be such an exciting journey to really maximize what God has put you on this earth for. Good stuff.

Jason: Yes, and that’s what I’m excited about for our listeners, for our retirees, to understand those strengths fully because they don’t have to be distracted by work anymore, they can live their best life, which is what I’m excited about. But we’re just about out of time, we only have about a minute left, if there was just one thing that you want our listeners to take away from our time together today, what’s the most important thing they get out of our time?

Rainer: I would say that, as we all have heard and probably all believe the older we get, life is short and so I want to make every moment count. I believe that now as I’m getting closer to my retirement years, I’m sure our listeners feel that way, and therefore, why not, even at this stage, fine-tune with a laser-like focus how God has wired you, what your strengths are, so that you can enjoy retirement, you can maximize your potential and do what you were created to do.

Jason: Yeah. Boy, let’s go live it, guys. Thank you for being a listener this morning. Rainer Kunz, thank you so much for being a guest on Sound Retirement Radio.

Rainer: You’re welcome.

Jason: Folks, if you’re interested in learning more, remember this is episode 171, Rainer Kunz is R-A-I-N-E-R K-U-N-Z.com. Thank you so much for being here. Until next week, this is Jason Parker signing out.

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