Analogy: What’s a Trillion Really Mean?

By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy

        Let’s peek into a college astronomy freshman class and  see how this teacher/leader is helping a student better grasp the concept of a light year.  The student knows the definition of a light year as the distance light travels in one year. But he wonders: “How far is that anyway?”

      Making abstract concepts more concrete is a critical skill of the most effective leaders. The most effective leaders develop meaningful and memorable analogies. Read on to refresh your thinking on constructing an analogy that your followers can follow.

   186,282 Miles Per Second

Light travels 5.87 trillion miles in a year

        How far is a light year? About 6 trillion miles. The astronomy professor guided the student in processing the  calculation  with these steps:

  1. Light travels at 186,282 miles per second.
  2.  There are 86,400 seconds in  day.
  3. Multiply steps  1 and 2 and you get the number of miles light travels in a day.
  4. Multiply that daily distance by 365 days and you get the number of miles light travels in a year.

    “I did all that and I get 5.87 trillion,” said the student. “So a light year is 5.87 trillion miles.  But what’s  a trillion? “

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