Ordinary beings—even those who are kind and compassionate—are primarily motivated by self-interest and work mainly for their own benefit. All of their activities and thoughts are tinged by self-serving motivations and attitudes. Even when they perform acts of kindness, they generally do so expecting praise or personal satisfaction and not because of pure altruism.
Bodhisattvas, however, are motivated by universal compassion, and they seek the ultimate goal of buddhahood in order to be of service to others. They embark on this path with the generation of the mind of awakening. Unlike ordinary beings, who think of their own advantage, bodhisattvas consider how best to benefit others.
—A Concise Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism by John Powers, page 38