There’s this rather good blog post about “positive deviants” by the authors of a book about the same. Thing is with nails that stick up, though, is that they often get hammered down very flat…
The 13th-century Sufi mystic Nasrudin is a fixture in Middle Eastern folklore. His parables combine wisdom with irony, logic with the illogical, the superficial with the profound. In one tale, he is a notorious smuggler routinely crossing the frontier with his string of donkeys, saddlebags loaded with straw. Customs inspectors search in vain for the contraband that accounts for his steady accumulation of wealth. Years go by. Nasrudin retires. One day he encounters the former chief of customs in a local tea house.
The retired official broaches a long-suppressed question: “Nasrudin, as we are now old men who have ended our careers and are no longer a threat to each other, tell me, during all those years, what were you smuggling?”
Nasrudin replies: “Donkeys.”