In her book "Know Your Power," Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi talks about her own history-making journey and shares lessons she's picked up over the years.
From breaking gender barriers to helping lead the country, Pelosi is undoubtedly one of the most influential women in American history.
"One of the reasons I'm spending a couple days on this is we really need more women in government," Pelosi told "Good Morning America." "I want to reach out in my book and give some guidance" to women.
Read an excerpt of her book below and then click here to head to the "GMA" Library to read other works.
It was a cold day in January 1987 when I said goodbye to Sala. I didn't know it at the time–or perhaps I simply wasn't ready to accept it–but my friend was dying.
Sala Burton was a Congresswoman from California whom I had known, along with her late husband, Phillip, for many years. She was one of the women I admired most, as well as a close friend.
Everyone respected Sala and knew not to underestimate her. She looked like Mother Earth; she spoke with a Polish accent; she didn't drive a car. She gave off an intense warmth–if she liked you. She was passionate about what she believed in, but very dispassionate about her politics.
Sala was like family to me. She loved my children and was especially close to my two oldest daughters, Nancy Corinne and Christine. Nancy Corinne started at Mount Vernon College in Washington shortly after Sala went to Congress, and called us one day to say that she needed a car.
"Why do you think you should have a car in college?" my husband, Paul, and I asked. With five children, providing each one with a car in college was not in the budget. "I need a car for Sala," Nancy Corinne said. "I have to drive Sala around."
So we sent our old Jeep Wrangler from San Francisco. It was quite a sight to see Nancy Corinne driving the dignified Sala Burton around Washington in a car with removable windows.
A couple of years later, Sala became ill with cancer. We thought she could win any battle. But this was one she could not.
And so the time came to say goodbye. Anyone who has ever visited a friend who is dying will know how hard it is. What was astonishing to me, however, was her selflessness. Despite my protests, what she wanted most to talk about was me.
A circle of her friends, whom she had summoned, gathered around her bed. Solemnly she announced the sad news: She would not be seeking reelection because she was very ill. She then turned to me and asked me to run for her seat. She wanted me to accept her endorsement on the spot.
"Sala, please don't talk this way," I said. "You're breaking my heart."
I still held out hope that she would get better. Finally she convinced me that my agreement was the only answer that would bring her comfort, and so, with great sadness, I promised I would run for Congress.
I often look back on that day in wonder.
We all admired Sala's strength and grace, but what was striking was the faith she had in me. Sometimes it takes the encouragement of someone who knows us well to propel us forward in ways we never would have dreamed. I was confident in my abilities and accomplishments, but Sala's faith in me was so unshakable that it made me determined to live up to it.
And so I ran for Congress–and won. I was forty-seven years old, a mother of five, happily married, and never–not even once–thinking or wanting this to happen to me.