The phrase "to seek to follow" is a better, closer translation than "to follow" in this quote. I think the greater difference is in using "follow" in the first place, it makes for a quick, simpler translation, but one that is different than simply using "seek" for both.
So, the phrase "to follow in the footsteps" can have the narrow, precise meaning that the quote calls for - to follow very literally and inflexibly, footstep by footstep - but it can, and often does have a broader meaning of generally following the example of (whoever)... which can mean even something like suggesting to the listener to (or negated in this quote, suggesting not to) find their own path [as the original did]. Or to become great, or to choose the path of greatness - following in someone's footsteps might mean making it successfully, after all. This is the literal opposite of what the quote needs it to mean.
On the other hand, the phrase "to seek to follow in the footsteps" suggests that the focus is on following for the sake of following - which ties into the quote's meaning a lot better. It's about the difference between following someone's example and following their procedures, if that makes sense. This phrasing also emphasizes the difference between an attempt and a success - someone successfully "following in the footsteps" doesn't need the quote, after all. But "try to follow" suggests strongly that the one attempting may already not succeed, and then the quote continues that even if they do succeed, it may not be the result they wanted if they were focusing on the wrong goal. So they may try to follow and fail, try to follow and succeed (at being a follower), or they can focus on the goal, and perhaps become great in seeking it.
So, going back to the beginning, the phrase "to seek to follow" is a better translation, it highlights the focus on following and re-emphasizes the uncertainty, the possibility of failure. The word-for-word translation is actually a better quote... to "seek the footsteps", or even better, "seek the footprints" (as JHCL mentioned) adds a connotation of focusing in on little details and suggests a much narrower focus, which is much more strongly contrasted by "seek what they sought". "Don't seek for their footprints" conveys an image of someone crawling around obsessing over the little evidence "the great" leave behind, instead of looking up and around to see where they might be going. Like I said, it is a stronger contrast, and, I think, a better quote.