What remains still is easy to manage.
What is not yet manifest is easy to plan for.
What is brittle is easy to crack.
What is small is easy to scatter.
Deal with things before they appear.
Put things in order before disorder arises.
A tree that fills a man’s embrace grows from a tiny shoot.
A tower of nine stores begins with a heap of earth
The journey of a thousand li starts with a single step.
He who takes action fails.
He who grasps things loses them.
The sage takes no action and therefore does not fail.
He does not grasp and therefore does not lose.
People usually fail when they are about to succeed.
So be as careful at the end as at the beginning, then there will be no failure.
The sage does not treasure what is difficult to attain.
He does not value treasures.
He does not hold on to ideas.
He supports all things in their natural state but does not venture to change them.
As I Understand It:
“The journey of a thousand li begins with a single step,” written 2, 500 years ago, this line contains timeless wisdom. It underlines the fact that a monumental task can be accomplished by taking the first step. Tiny things mature and develop with nurture and effort-a miniscule seed becomes a gigantic tree, a multistory building starts with one brick.
The flip side of the quote is, confront a problem when it is still small. A tiny task becomes big if it is not tackled right away. If you procrastinate, a simple task may end up in a disaster. Learn to foresee a problem prior to it turning into a disorder. Anticipate a negative situation when interacting with people. Their words, acts or thoughts may provoke you to do something that might result in distress, even calamity. Many of life’s challenges are preventable if they are dealt with before hand.
Single steps, taken with confidence, can result in great accomplishment whereas the consequence of unguarded simple moments can end in chaos.
Dyer, W. Wayne. Change Your Thought–Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao. Hay House, Inc. 2007.
The Way of Lao Tzu (Tao-te Ching), Translated, with introductory essays, comments, and notes by Chan, Wing-Tsit. The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc. 1963.