I was skimming B.F. Skinner's Beyond Freedom and Dignity and came across this quote by La Rochefoucauld --
"No man deserves to be praised for his goodness unless he has strength of character to be wicked. All other goodness is generally nothing but indolence or impotence of will."
If you're not familiar with the term Indolence -- (I had to look it up myself) -- it's laziness, a lack of animation, an inability to compel yourself to act.
Impotence of will is the inability to follow through and persist with plans.
So what La Rochefoucauld is getting at is, if someone wishes they were able to lie, cheat, steal, and otherwise do awful things to get ahead and yet doesn't simply out of a lack of drive, that's not praiseworthy.
To be praiseworthy, you have to cultivate your ability to do things -- which lets you do things both good and evil. Then, and only then, does directing yourself on a path of avoiding wrongdoing become praiseworthy.
Practically speaking, many people seem to be pleased and hold themselves in high esteem that they've never "done all those awful things that politicians and senior executives do" -- but lo, when someone who claims a mantle of morality when low is made high, how often do their principles stand?
The person who commands vast will, vast resources, vast skill, and faces temptation and opportunity to do wrong and profit from it -- and then does the right thing -- that is praiseworthy.
The takeaway is twofold -- be wary of praising someone for being moral if they don't have the capacity to follow through with their plans, because who knows if their moral resolve will be so solid once real temptation is there?
And secondly, be wary of holding yourself in too high of esteem when you've never been elevated to positions of ownership, stewardship, skill, prestige, etc. It's easy to criticize people who hold stations we do not with the assumption that we would do much better, but without having built the skill and resources and battle-tested our own morality in tough times and places.
Indolence and lack of will are not praiseworthy; praiseworthy is the person who could do anything, and chooses to do well.