Best-selling author Stephen Covey says it takes humility to seek feedback. It takes wisdom to understand it, analyse it and appropriately act on it.
President Thabo Mbeki's state of the nation speech seemed to underscore these elements and reflected commitment to tackle social challenges with single-minded purposefulness.
It resonated with this newspaper's snap survey findings last week which revealed that jobs, crime and HIV-Aids were the main concerns of our readers and surely the rest of the population. Mbeki singled out these challenges as needing urgent solutions.
Political consultant Frederik van Zyl Slabbert said of Mbeki's speech: "We've come a long way from a few weeks ago, when rampant crime was just a perception in the president's view.
"There was a certain sense of humility about him, and I found that encouraging. We didn't get the usual aggressiveness, hostility or sarcasm he likes to indulge in. He was sober; reflective almost. He recognised that we have a problem which we have to address. He played the statesman..."
All said, appropriate action is what is now urgently needed to overcome the challenges that threaten to wreck our democracy.
But what mattered most was that the people spoke from the heart and our president listened and responded with disarming candour.