Tires Don't Stay Buried

Mar 26, 2021


Do you know why buried tires float to the surface? Discover what keeps old tires, unresolved conflict, and unfinished tasks from resurfacing.

My mom and I were talking the other day, and she concluded her story by saying, “You know, because tires don’t stay buried.” What?! No, I didn’t know that. At this very moment I own 8 tires, actually 12 if you count the two spares and my bike. So, clearly, I don’t have a problem with tires. In fact, I still marvel that we sent people to the moon before we had wheels on our suitcases. But, I digress… For the purposes of this Leader’s Field Guide, let’s allow tires to serve as a metaphor for that problem or task that just won’t go away-- no matter how deeply it is buried.

Why do buried tires float to the top of landfills or slowly emerge from dirt? There are two schools of thought explaining this phenomenon: First, tires trap air and methane gas expanding the surrounding soil. “Since the pressure above the tire is significantly less than the pressure below it, the tire will eventually rise to the surface.”1 Second, tires are springy, and when compressed by the weight of waste or soil, they bounce back causing them to slowly spring to the top. Just like problems or tasks, they don’t go away until we address them one at a time.

What makes tires…and problems or tasks resurface?

  • Avoid ‘Em: Continued traffic, say on roads running through landfills, tend to pump the rubbery tires causing them to spring their way to the surface.2 Ever agonized over a dilemma or endeavor, worrying it, pressing in on it but failing to resolve it? It takes courage and effort to address a dreaded task preventing it from festering.
  • Bury ‘Em: It takes a tire about 10 years to resurface after it is buried at a depth of 5 feet.3 Similarly, we can delay the inevitable for only so long before our concerns or hidden projects come back into view. Again, suggesting that getting to the bottom of a conflict or an effort is the only way to get rid of it for good.

What keeps tires…and problems or tasks from resurfacing?

  • Shred ‘Em: A shredded tire cannot trap air or bounce it’s way upward. Likewise, We can also shred our problems or break them down into manageable components. As leaders, we must acknowledge there is effort even in understanding the composition of each issue or opportunity. Then, once small enough, the matter can be resolved.
  • Recycle ‘Em: There are hundreds of uses for recycled tires, like rubberized asphalt and playground surfaces.4 Leaders repairing relationships and completing assignments gain something in return, too, peace of mind and time for new ventures. Don’t underestimate the mental drain or overhead wasted on the unfinished.

Are your unresolved problems and tasks bouncing back or releasing toxic fumes? Did you notice that pressure tends to bring tires and issues to the surface faster? What is your delay, procrastination, or avoidance bringing up? What could you do with more peace of mind or headspace? Break it down and do the hard work, because tires don’t stay buried.

Sources: 1, 3, 4 Here’s Why Rubber Tires Won’t Stay Buried And Will Always “Float” To The Surface; 2 Unsolved Landfill Mysteries—The Case of the Floating Tire (includes tips for building a Floating Tire Simulator).

by Michelle Sugerman • Leading Synergies, LLC • © All Rights Reserved

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