Which is more important - the idea or the execution? Why?

This question is really close to my heart.

I have been personally struggling with ideation for the longest time. In my youth, I was (and still like to think that I am) enterprising and was always on the lookout for ways to make money. I ended up starting a small business selling custom tee shirts to various schools and CCAs - I even tried to sell to the FASS student union for their orientation camps back when I was only 14!

This small business was going great, really great in fact considering that I was only 13 when I started, and was able to achieve a considerable amount of profit mostly by myself.

But I burnt out.
I was distraught.
I felt like I wasn’t contributing much. I wasn’t making a difference.
I was merely helping students to get a class/cca tee shirt. I was merely a middleman to connect the students with the t shirt suppliers, and sometimes graphic designers, for the sole sake of making money.
I felt like I was just a cog in the wheel.

I dreamt of how great it would be to have a revolutionary idea.

If I had such an idea, I could use it to easily rope in others to support my cause.

Ideally, I would able to sell my idea so well that my customers would be willing to accept a subpar product just because they believe in what it can be.

They would even advocate it to their peers to convince them about its potential.

In fact, I know of one such idea that did exactly that.
Limit Theory , an indie procedurally-generated space sim that raised USD 187,865 on kickstarter in 2012, has extremely devoted fans that have stuck around till this day actively discussing on its  forums  despite the creator’s frequent long swaths of absence, and even the  cancellation of the game six years after its Kickstarter campaign ended  .

I believe that ideas, no matter how good they may be, should be openly shared so that they may be validated.

I would like to share a personal experience about a now graduated NUS business student who was looking for technical cofounders.

He reached out to a prof who generously helped him send an email blast to CS students, and their brief description of the startup idea piqued my interest so I reached out.

But what I found was a really uncompromising student who fiercely refused to share what his idea was, without requiring me to agree to be fully on board his startup and have me sign a non-disclosure agreement.

I found this experience to be extremely repulsive, because in the first place, I was not convinced about just how great his idea was, so why would I agree to be on board his startup and sign a non-disclosure agreement?

I followed my dad to several trade shows hoping to get a glimpse of a great idea. But he would always remind me that as long as he finds one good idea or product from the trade show, the trip would be worth it.

And so I have been searching, and searching, and searching… to no avail.

So for me, I believe that ideas are more important, as having the lack of good ideas has literally been the biggest stumbling block of my life.