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These are happy days for professional football fans - the NFL pre-season has started and the regular season is just around the corner.

After watching just a couple of games, something struck me: Pro football players seem bigger than ever; they dwarf the reporters who interview them and appear more massive than former football greats.

This has created a game that is more competitive, faster-paced, and, according to many observers, much more brutal.

Sounds a lot like the current marketplace, doesn't it; fiercely competitive, fast changing, and unforgiving of mistakes.

To compete in this environment, companies need leaders who think and act like professional athletes -- people who work hard at developing the skills and stamina needed to perform at consistently high levels.

What does it take to achieve this level of performance? Three things.