(Main picture above) Myself walking through the swamps on a 20+ mile movement conducting special operations training.
You've probably heard anyone that has stayed around long enough in any profession to discuss how crucial it is to be a master of the basics. An amateur will do it until they get it right, and a professional will do it until they can't get it wrong. Which is exactly how I would define my entire military experience and now the code I live by. If you watch people who are highly successful, they are masters of the basics. So how does a private investigator keep their skills fresh? The answer is simple... keep practicing.
Practice the basics of what you do so much that it makes you sick, and then keep going. Figure out every conceivable way to get it wrong and then how to fix it.
For me, I'll work on researching every aspect I possibly can about a topic. Then I will work to find every source I possibly can in each field of topic I research. Once I do this, I'll see how fast I can acquire certain information and how fast I can compile (and peer-review source) all of this information. Then I'll do it again, again, and again. Until I can't get it wrong. For when I client asks me of a way to obtain information that exists outside of what I consider a simple database search, I have the techniques and sources pre-built to find them the information quickly and effectively.
Start building winning habits now. If you are going to do something, be the best at it. At Fox Investigations, we do not settle for mediocre or just okay work. We want to deliver exceptional.
I constantly work to hone my surveillance skills, whether it is tailing a car for practice on my way somewhere or becoming more proficient with my tools of the trade. (ever ran into the issue of needing to acquire camera footage really fast when you were unprepared? Make that app easy to get to). A well trained police officer is extremely familiar with working on your pistol draw, to the point to where you develop muscle memory and can do it without thinking about it. The same goes for the military too. My time in special operations was spent doing drills to the point I had callus build up on the trigger finger, and constant mag changes (my God the mag changes). Then having competitions against each other to be faster and more effective at various methods, over and over again.
My tip I always try to convey to guys looking to be the best, is not trying to find a complicated move or technique like you see in the movies. The real badasses are doing the basics until they can't get it wrong. That's what separates okay work from exceptional and often enough can mean the difference between getting the right information or footage you need and not. So yes, work on the mundane simple things that are crucial to your job, make it a challenge. Each time I drill myself, I test for time. I push myself to go faster.
Become resourceful. Know how to do something, then know how to do it in different ways, different circumstances. What's really important, is to identify where you are weak at, and then hone in on that. I'll attend job interviews, walk in to talk to managers, or just go out and get in front of people all the time just to hone my ability of talking with people in various situations and settings. Get comfortable and get confident, and be comfortable with screwing up things.
That way, when it all counts.
Your muscle memory kicks in and you square yourself away.
Be The Best.