Resurrecting your Passion

I told Joni Martin I wanted to write about “Resurrecting Your Passion”. Girlforce empowers women by sharing our stories; I hope mine resonates with you.

Once upon a time (2003), I began working at the Carnivore Preservation Trust (CPT) and met Elwood Jaguar.

This cat was so smart, he’d grin and turn his head when the guides talked about jaguar bite strength. Amazing.

Fast forward to 2006 at a closed down zoo where I met Raj Tiger. Here’s how he introduced himself:

He and I were best buds for 8 years. My mission: Using technology to share those animals’ stories as much as possible.

We turned the organization around and became Carolina Tiger Rescue.

Salesforce entered my scene in 2011. Event management, volunteer management, duplicate management, automation AND a reporting tool using simple order-of-operations logic?

For free? Really?

Six months into our consulting contract, as Rep #2 was talking but clarifying nothing at $150 per hour, I decided to take over the implementation.

NPSP was poised to rocket forward. Consultants still recommended custom installs, but the NPSP’s latest upgrades said they were wrong.

Changing infrastructure and building process is hard. I’m learning Salesforce and teaching it at the same time. I loved the concept, the platform, and the Salesforce community.

Our staff was swallowed by it. I watched them try to avoid it, data hiding in separate spreadsheets and eyes glazing over as I explained why their report seemed wrong. We still made amazing progress.

Meanwhile, the animals were dying. Carolina Tiger’s breeding program stopped in 2000, so by 2012 we were a nursing home as much as a rescue.

My memory issues started in 2014. I'd won a $10,000 grant to digitize our tour check-in, and I missed our first online meeting. We rescheduled for the same day; I forgot again.

By January 2015, I only slept about four hours a night. Focus required medication, while I upgraded to NPSP3, the Household Account model, and integrated tour ticketing.

Everything interrupted Tour Check-In, which was throwing grenades non-stop.

I grew angry. Everything became overwhelming. There was no time for visiting animals, and when I did, the difference in how I felt tore my heart. Isolated, but I still wanted to be left alone.  I resented my pay grade and felt pretty justified about it. It hurt watching our new staff members’ enthusiasm. Somehow I’d betrayed my mission.

By Dreamforce 2015, I'd had serious insomnia for a year. I was so afraid I would miss the conference momentum.

San Francisco’s gift was perspective. My AirBnB host recommended the mindfulness sessions. After the Girlforce breakfast, Joni and I talked about life challenges over beer at 10 AM. By week’s end, I felt the conference was meant for me.

I desperately wanted to be on the Salesforce bus.

Since then, I’ve found my voice. My director and I scheduled regular Salesforce reviews.  I engage my coworkers again. Tour Check-In had a smooth weekend in December.

But, I've switched communities. I’m valued in the Hub where there's sympathy and empathy, success and accolade. There’s Answers. There's Listeners.

How do you resurrect your passion? Here are my lessons learned:

  • Be mindful of feeling frustrated, your passion is at stake.
  • The greater the passion, the higher the risk of burnout.
  • My research spelled this out. I was relieved my struggle was a byproduct of my commitment, not evidence of a lack of it.
  • Success and passion go together.
  • Oliver Emberton wrote a great blog on passion, where he makes the case that success breeds passion rather than the other way around. It rang true for me.
  • If frustration is the death of passion, inspiration and creation are its rebirth.
  • My story does not exemplify this yet, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel, and that’s what it looks like from here. Creating this story is my step forward.
  • Stay vulnerable.
  • It takes time to find your voice. Things got ugly.
  • I relied on sharing my feelings. I tossed around reasons for them in my head, trying each one on until the puzzle pieces fit.
  • Your ending may be different than you wanted, but by the time you get there, it will be OK.
  • I believe it.

“You will travel through the valley of rejection
you will reside in the land of morning mists
and you will find your home, though it will not be where you left it.”


Amanda Byrne is the IT Administrator for Carolina Tiger Rescue, and implemented their instance of Salesforce in 2011. She presented CRM comparisons and Salesforce at three state conferences. She was active in NPSP Google groups, and continues in the PowerofUs Hub, becoming one of its first Community Heroes in 2014. She became a ‘Super Whammy Jammy Salesforce Certified Administrator’ in 2014.

Amanda hales from Pittsboro, NC, where she shares big cat stories, enjoys wildcat photography, thrift shopping, and yard work, and follows her latest adventures in learning.