Before launching into this, please keep it clean. Yes, there is the obvious innuendo from the play on words but, for goodness sake, get your mind out of the gutter!
We often hear about the hard man who can chew rocks and will slog through mud all day and everyday, undergoing gruelling physical torture, to eke out a living. I want to challenge the notion of "hardness" as a physical prowess or toughness of sorts. Yes, this is a part of it, but I believe that true hardness is more of a character virtue that holds a man to his word and sees him never backing down from his principles.
So, what are some examples of manly hardness in action?
Refusing to give in to emotional manipulation
e.g. Your 13 year old daughter wants to go to a party where there will be no adult supervision, but some older teenagers who have cars. You won't allow it on the grounds that you don't know the other kids well enough and you don't think it appropriate that a large group of teenagers be left to their own devices without some form of supervision. Your daughter says that she hates you and is never going to speak to you again. You remain firm in your decision, knowing that the safety of your daughter is of more importance than that she show you affection.
Saving, even during tough times
e.g. despite your budget being really tight, you make sure to save even a little of each pay. You believe that the habit of saving is good to maintain, even if you could spend that very little on something to provide a little comfort. Ensuring that you have savings means that you don't have to be a drain on others when an emergency occurs.
Not making hasty decisions
e.g. An investment opportunity arises where you must take action today or risk losing the chance to make significant financial gains. You want to know more about the situation before committing and this will mean tomorrow is the earliest chance you can actually commit. A hard man will not bend on his principles and will be happy to lose the opportunity because he knows that it is unwise to commit blindly. Even if it turns out that this was a good opportunity, he does not regret his decision.
You might not agree with the stance taken in the examples above but the concept of sticking to a wise principle is a good one. And doing so despite personal loss or harm.
A final example:
Valuing human life
e.g. A terrorist puts a gun in your hand and another gun to your head. He tells you to shoot the child in front of you or you will be shot. A hard man will accept his fate, even if the terrorist will also kill the child. Better to do what is right and die than to compromise and live.