The Middle Earth Moment is when a person focuses more on what's going on in their own little world, ignores the needs of someone else and consquently damages their own ability to create value. On a recent trip home from speaking, I encountered someone who had a Middle Earth Moment. She was the "at-the-gate-take-your-ticket-service-engineer" for American Airlines. I travel frequently and have built up upgrades I use to move from coach to first-class. As I checked-in I asked if I could upgrade. She responded in haste that first-class was full. I said ok and walked to my 19D seat. After they closed the airplane doors, I checked the seating in first-class. There were 6 empty seats! She simply didn't want to deal with my request (which would have required her to re-issue me a new ticket - a process that averages about 2 minutes).
Her Middle Earth Moment caused her to think, "my need of getting everyone onboard is greater than this passenger's need for great customer service." Because in the end, it wasn't so much about not having my request filled, it was more that she deliberately lied to make her life easier.
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