The power of asking, "What's the next action?"

We always love hearing how people are applying GTD in their lives.  This heartfelt story came in to David from Peggy in Massachusetts, who shared her experience asking the simple GTD question: “What’s the next action?”

Asking myself “What’s the next action?” recently resulted in a wonderfully positive experience in my life. In 1970, I was a passenger on a Eastern Airlines flight that was hijacked. During that hijacking the co-pilot was killed and the pilot was shot in both arms yet he landed the plane miraculously in Boston. I was 19 at the time. The recent Miracle on the Hudson got me thinking how miraculous my own experience was but I had never thanked the pilot or crew who flew the flight.

Asking what the next action was prompted the answer, “Sit down at  the computer.” I did, googled retired eastern airlines pilots, and with the hour had his name and address. In addition, thanks to another interested retired pilot, I learned much more about the flight and the courageous actions of all involved especially the co-pilot who died. I have finally been able to send my thanks to the man who saved my life and the life of many others that day.

Thank you David Allen for helping me move forward and finally make this important connection.

Peggy McLoughlin

David shared with her that it seemed like “there are principles here bigger than the story itself…”  Peggy was sweet enough to update us on the final outcome:

In a subsequent “next action”, I received a call from the pilot now 75 years old and living in Florida. When he received my letter he said his wife told him he should sit down and write a nice return letter. But he decided instead to call and make the connection right away. Was it an example of the ingrained habit of clear thinking and decisive action that also contributed to his skillful landing of the plane at only 35 years old? In any case, it was the first time in 39 years I had ever spoken to someone who shared the experience of that flight. I was able to fill him in on what was happening in the cabin and he told me more about the gunfight  in the cockpit. Most of our conversation however involved him asking about my life and my children. He was clearly in forward thinking mode. The 39th anniversary of the flight was yesterday.

I had been reading Making It All Work when I decided to take the next action on contacting the pilot. Letting you know how grateful I am to you for helping me make this important connection seemed the absolute right next action.  Thank you very much for all the ways your work has encouraged and inspired me.

If you have a GTD story to share, please let us know!

Join the Conversation


  1. Hi Peggy, I live in Hong Kong and wanted to thank you for your touching story.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.