You’re supposed to dream at night

Dont Let Pigeon Drive The Bus Gabriel

Anyone else read between the lines of children’s books?

If you are reading a bedtime book to your child, I encourage you to pick up the lessons that its author might have intended for you. As a parent of three sons, I re-read these stories so often that I find it impossible not to connect the dots between the author’s original intentions and potential lessons for adult readers. Remember, children’s authors know that grown-ups read these tales too, and a parent would be foolish not to pick up on lessons themselves (even tangentially).

As a job-interview coach, I am on a mission to remind clients that achieving their dream jobs is possible, and I believe this empowering message can even be found within kids’ books.

My family started reading books by acclaimed author Mo Willems in 2013, back when my first son was 2. On the surface, Mo’s books couldn’t be simpler. The accompanying illustrations are simple, outlined with bold, black lines.

Out of his many stories, my personal favorite is Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus.

As the title suggests, the story’s central character is an incredibly persistent yet frustrated pigeon who wants nothing more than to drive a bus. The conductor talks directly to the reader throughout the narrative, asking to make sure the pigeon does not drive the bus. Then, he leaves. That’s when the pigeon goes bonkers, spending time and effort in trying to get the reader to let him drive. By breaking the fourth wall, the story makes reading the book clever and funny. I sometimes ask my son, “OK, so now can the pigeon drive the bus?” and of course he screams “No!” This is central to the story’s plot.

The pigeon’s aspirations are loud and clear at the moment when the bus is left alone. This bird knows what he wants and will go as far as manipulations and lies to have a chance at the wheel. Eventually, though, he accepts that his ultimate dream will not come true. The driver finally returns aboard the bus, making it clear that the bird never had a shot at trying his hand (or wing) at driving the bus. So, what does the fowl do at the point when he is deflated? He immediately becomes distracted by another shiny object: a nearby tractor trailer! Now, his dreams of driving a 10-axle vehicle begin to consume him — and the book ends.

The pigeon protagonist sounds a lot like anyone who has felt deflated after pursuing their dreams.

As a job interview coach, I’m reminded of clients who had their confidence bruised when their ambitions didn’t pan out. It makes me think of clients with children, who’ve had dreams gnawing at them for years. These dreamers have had to put their ambitions on the back burner in pursuit of helping their kids go after their own goals, as though it were either one or the other. Every night when I read to my sons, I’m reminded that both my dreams and theirs can coexist, just like the idea that a Mo Willems book can entertain a child and teach valuable lessons to its adult readers. The lessons I’ve learned are shaped by my years as a job interview coach who has seen too few people really going after their dreams.

My big takeaway when I read Mo Willems is that a real dream or ambition has a life of its own.


1. What is your real ambition?

2. If you could go back to when you only had yourself to focus on, what would you be doing instead?

Share your answers in the comments below.

I want to help you fulfill your dream and will review all comments to offer up ideas to kick-start your individual journey.


Next Stop: Your original dream never goes away


Melissa Llarena

Melissa helps movers and shakers up to those in the corner office rediscover what makes them unique so that they can land their dream job in a forward-thinking company where their ideas are listened to, valued, and supported.

She brings insights from having worked in 16-business units (including Human Resources) in NY, Paris, and London. Additionally, in her former corporate career, she worked on billion-dollar brands for P&G and on IBM for Ogilvy & Mather. Later, as the founder and CEO of Career Outcomes Matter, Melissa created a 3-step “sellable strengths” process which has been the centerpiece of her clients' results.

Melissa applies this method consistently to support mid-level professionals up to the c-suite to get into Fortune Global 500 organizations and agencies. She studied Psychology at NYU and earned her MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.

Leave a Comment