A friend told me of visiting the Dalai Lama in India and asking him for a succinct definition of compassion. She prefaced her question by describing how heart-stricken she'd felt when, earlier that day, she'd seen a man in the street beating a mangy stray dog with a stick. “Compassion,” the Dalai Lama told her, “is when you feel as sorry for the man as you do for the dog.”
Source: The Compassionate Life: Walking the Path of Kindness
There is no estimating the wit and wisdom concealed and latent in our lower fellow mortals until made manifest by profound experiences; for it is through suffering that dogs as well as saints are developed and made perfect.
So don't ask yourself what people want. Ask instead, What is true? What really inspires me, excites me? What will really help people and take away their confusion and suffering? It's sort of a funny, crazy way to go, but I think it's the only way to bring water to the wasteland Joseph Campbell described. When I read something truthful, something real, I breathe a deep sigh and say, "Fantastic - I wasn't mad or alone in thinking that, after all!" So often we are left to our own devices, struggling in the dark with this external and internal propaganda system. At that point, for someone to tell us the truth is a gift. In a world where people all around us are lying and confusing us, to be honest is a great kindness.
Most people tell you they want to get out of kindergarten, but don't believe them. Don't believe them! All they want you to do is to mend their broken toys. "Give me back my wife. Give me back my job. Give me back my money. Give me back my reputation, my success." This is what they want; they want their toys replaced. That's all. Even the best psychologist will tell you that, that people don't really want to be cured. What they want is relief; a cure is painful.
But there is suffering in life, and there are defeats. No one can avoid them. But it's better to lose some of the battles in the struggles for your dreams than to be defeated without ever knowing what you're fighting for.