Trouble is easily overcome before it starts.
The brittle is easily shattered;
The small is easily scattered.
Deal with it before it happens.
Set things in order before there is confusion.
A tree as great as a man's embrace springs up from a small shoot;
A terrace nine stories high begins with a pile of earth;
A journey of a thousand miles starts under one's feet.
He who acts defeats his own purpose;
He who grasps loses.
The sage does not act, and so is not defeated.
He does not grasp and therefore does not lose.
People usually fail when they are on the verge of success.
So give as much care to the end as to the beginning;
Then there will be no failure.
Therefore the sage seeks freedom from desire.
He does not collect precious things.
He learns not to hold on to ideas.
He brings men back to what they have lost.
He help the ten thousand things find their own nature,
But refrains from action.
It's easy to maintain balance.
Trouble can be nipped in the bud.
Fragile things break easily,
and small things are easy to lose.
Deal with the situation
before it becomes a problem.
Keep everything straight
so it can't get messed up.
Every tree was once a seed.
Every skyscraper started out
with a shovelful of dirt.
And--stop me if you've heard this one before--
a journey of a thousand miles
begins with a single step.
When you try too hard,
you defeat your own purpose.
Cling to stuff,
and you will suffer loss.
The Masters make no effort,
so they never fail.
They aren't attached to things,
so they never feel loss.
People often screw up
when the job's nearly done.
Pay as much attention
to the finishing touches
as you do to the initial steps,
and you won't screw up like that.
The Masters try to be free from desire.
They don't collect precious things.
They don't cling to any beliefs.
They pay attention
to what everybody else ignores.
They help the world get right with Tao,
but don't try to change a thing.
The first version is from the Fortune files. The second version is the Beatrice Tao.